300 fishermen set to get free life jackets

The Lough Neagh Rescue boat pictured during a training exercise.
The Lough Neagh Rescue boat pictured during a training exercise.
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Around 300 fishermen on Lough Neagh are to get lifejackets as part of a safety initiative funding by Stormont.

Fishermen on the lough and Lough Erne are to be given free specially designed life jackets in coming months in a project funded by the DARD and DCAL through the European Fisheries Fund.

The Mullion Compact Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs) are much lighter and more compact than traditional designs, making them easier for fishermen to work in.

Pat Close, Chief Executive of the Lough Neagh Eel Fishermen’s Co-operative said: “It is imperative to provide user friendly equipment to fishermen to enhance their personal safety.”

The first event to distribute will be held at the Lough Neagh Eel Fishermen’s Co-Op headquarters at Toome on September 4 at 6pm. Training will be given by project partners Lough Neagh Rescue and the RNLI with support from national charity, the Fishermen’s Mission. Up to 200 lifejackets will also be distributed on a first come, first served basis. Commercial fishing boat skippers holding either a boat licence from the Lough Neagh Eel Fishermen’s Co-Operative Society or with a DCAL Commercial license are entitled to register personal interest and on behalf of a helper. Proof of either document along with identification should be brought along on the night.

Gordon Munro of H. M. Coastguard said: “We would encourage fishermen to bring their old lifejackets with them. Our lifejacket clinic will identify whether old equipment they may have is still fit for purpose or whether it needs serviced. All too often fishermen continue to use lifejackets that in an emergency situation would simply not function properly”.

Dr Lynn Gilmore, from Seafish added “The local industry and community will benefit by having better equipped crews and families will have peace of mind knowing their loved ones are safer while fishing. These PFDs have already proved their worth- they are an essential piece of equipment that could save your life.”