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RYA reveals lack of data and urges boaters to report poorly marked fishing gear

by Loretta Spridgeon 21 Sep 13:42 BST 21 September 2017
Reports of poorly marked fishing gear © RYA

The RYA has today revealed a significant lack of data relating to poorly marked fishing gear and is reminding boaters to report all observations and entanglements.

Since the launch of the RYA's online form in May 2017, just 85 reports have been submitted despite considerable anecdotal evidence that incidents occur much more frequently. The reporting of 58 entanglements and 27 observations has proved useful in identifying hotspots around country and the RYA has today published a 'heat map' of poorly marked fishing gear based on the incident reports.

The RYA's fishing gear entanglement report provides a simple to complete electronic form in an attempt to collate quantitative data to support boaters' concerns. Data is essential to support negotiations on improving the visibility of static fishing gear for collision avoidance and the RYA is relying on boaters to report incidents.

A petition recently launched by the Cruising Association urges the Minister of State (DEFRA) to improve the way static fishing gear is marked for the safety of all small craft at sea. With over 3,200 signatures to date it is evident that boaters feel strongly about this issue, however, these concerns are not presently supported by the existing incident data reported to the RYA. The RYA takes the view that unless the petition is underpinned by data, it may simply be seen by Government as an emotive demand for action based on nothing more than opinion rather than factual evidence.

For that reason, the RYA continues to urge all boaters to report sightings and entanglements wherever in the UK they occur. This will provide a better picture of where static gear is laid and hard data on the actual number of entanglements; it is considered an essential precursor to petitioning Government.

Stuart Carruthers, RYA Cruising Manager, explains: "For many years the RYA has been concerned by reports of boaters who have experienced fouled propellers and entanglement with sea-fishing gear such as nets, pots and associated markers, flags and lines. While fishing equipment cannot be charted, we believe that it should be properly marked so that it is visible by both day and night. This will avoid damage to small craft and the loss of fishing gear for the fishermen.

"We are pleased that the Cruising Association is encouraging boaters to complete the RYA online form. We have had direct discussions with DEFRA and MMO who have made it clear that they would need solid evidence clearly demonstrating that the safety risk and/or cost of poorly marked fishing gear is unacceptable before they consider taking action.

"Chatting on forums and social media about fishing gear entanglements doesn't provide the evidence we need to determine the scale of the problem. To demonstrate that it is as significant as the concerns that people voice, we need boaters who have spotted poorly marked gear or experienced an entanglement to complete the form. Please don't leave it to the boat next door; if you have an entanglement, report it. Observation reports will also help improve the heat map of hot spot areas around the coast that boaters should be aware of.

"We have a well-developed relationship with Government and its agencies. Through this and with better data, we continue to seek better regulation for marking and improved enforcement action for those who ignore the law."

The online reporting form is readily available on the RYA website at www.rya.org.uk/go/entanglements.

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