Dáil Éireann - Volume 557 - 12 November, 2002
Written Answers. - Water Safety.
Mr. Coveney Mr. Coveney
324. Mr. Coveney asked the Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources the number of prosecutions which have been made to enforce the new legislation requiring fishermen on Irish registered vessels to wear lifejackets while working on deck at sea; the number of inspections which have been made to this effect; and the person who has the responsibility for enforcing the legislation. [21383/02]
Mr. D. Ahern Mr. D. Ahern
Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources (Mr. D. Ahern): The Fishing Vessel (Personal Flotation Devices) Regulations, SI 586 of 2001, were signed on 14 December 2001 and came into effect on 1 March 2002. Under the regulations the skipper of a commercial fishing vessel must take all reasonable steps to ensure that all crew members wear a personal flotation device, PFD, when on the exposed deck of the vessel. This statutory instrument was made under the Merchant Shipping Act, 1992. Under section 19(5) of that Act, if there is a contravention of regulations made under it, the owner and skipper of a fishing vessel are guilty of an offence. To date there have been no prosecutions.
To facilitate the application of the new regulations regarding the wearing of PFDs the maritime safety directorate of my Department issued a marine notice, No. 7 of 2002, on 19 April 2002 giving guidance on the selection of personal flotation devices for use on board fishing vessels. The fishing organisations and other interested bodies were notified of the regulations and the regulations are available on my Department's website. In July 2002 BIM issued a brochure entitled Safe Fishing Is No Accident. The brochure outlines the requirement for fishermen to wear PFDs. In addition, fishermen participating in the basic safety training courses organised by BIM are introduced to the various types of PFDs available and the marine surveyors of my Department also bring the regulations in relation to the wearing of PFDs to the attention of the skippers and crew when they are surveying fishing vessels.
Under the Merchant Shipping Act, 1992, an “authorised officer” – which includes a member of the Garda Síochána and persons holding a commissioned naval rank in the Permanent Defence Force, may board any vessel to ensure that the regulations made under the Act are being  complied with. To date, the maritime safety directorate itself has not undertaken inspections specifically in relation to the wearing of PFDs. However, the review of safety regulations which I have asked the directorate to undertake includes enhancing enforcement arrangements in relation to all vessels from 2003 onwards.
Dáil Éireann 557 Written Answers. Water Safety.