In a debate in the Commons, Luke has added his support to a call for a national memorial day to fishermen lost at sea. Luke said:
“In Plymouth we have lost four fishers in recent years: two on the JMT, one on the Solstice and one on the Laura Jane.
“In remembering them as individuals and the risks they take in going to sea, may I ask we use this opportunity to talk about the need to invest in improved safety such as the further roll-out of the Plymouth life jacket scheme? A personal locator beacon is included on the life jackets, which takes the search out of “search and rescue” if a person goes overboard.”
Figures suggest that fishing is six times more deadly than the most dangerous jobs on land. In 2017/18, the industry suffered a rate of 62 fatalities per 100,000 workers, compared to just 0.5 per 100,000 for all other sectors.
Luke has a track record of calling for better safety on fishing boats and was successful in arguing for funding from the Government to take Plymouth’s lifejacket scheme to fishers nationwide. These new lifejackets automatically ping the location of fishers who fall or are swept into the sea.
“Fishing is Britain’s most dangerous peacetime occupation. The South West is proud of its fishing heritage. A national memorial day to remember fishers who have been lost at sea will be a fitting tribute, and a recognition of the dangers involved in putting fish on our plates.”
Responding to the debate, Robert Courts MP, Minister for Transport said:
“The industry has been working hard for many years to get fishermen to wear personal flotation devices. Seafish and the national federations have provided more than 8,000 devices free to crews, particularly those on small fishing vessels.
“We have heard from the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport [Luke Pollard] about how valuable that is and the massive difference it has made in his constituency. I thank him for his work.”
In the debate Karl Turner MP suggested that the last Sunday in January would be the best day for the national memorial. This is the day that Hull remembers the Triple Trawler Tragedy where three trawlers were lost in 1968 that triggered the “Headscarf revolutionaries” of wives of lost fishers who campaigned successfully for new safety measures on fishing boats.