SIA: Report highlights need for better monitoring
A PEAK industry body has welcomed the finding of the inquest into the tragic deaths of two fishermen off Fraser Island.
The bodies of FV Cassandra skipper Matt Roberts, 61, and crewman David Chivers, 36, were never found after their prawn trawler flipped off the coast of Fraser Island in April 2016.
Central Coroner David O'Connell delivered his findings from investigating the FV Cassandra's sinking, as well as the October 16, 2017 capsize of the FV Dianne, which killed six men.
Seafood Industry Australia chief executive officer Jane Lovell said it was a step in the right direction to ensuring tragedies like the FV Dianne and the FV Cassandra did not happen again.
"First and foremost, our thoughts are with Ruben McDornan and the family and friends of Adam Hoffman, Ben Leahy, Adam Bidner, Zac Feeney, Chris Sammut and Eli Tonks, the crew of the Dianne, and the family and friends of Matt Roberts and David Chivers of the FV Cassandra,” she said.
"Following the FV Dianne tragedy, Joel Feeney and Jackie Perry, the brother and sister of Zac Feeney, worked tirelessly to find a way vessel monitoring systems (VMS) could be used as an early safety alert system. I commend them for their approach in trying to find a solution that would prevent other fishers being lost at sea.
"It is therefore heartening to read that the coroner has recommended use of VMS for safety, not just for fisheries management.
"Our great hope is that our industry, our regulators and our governments can come together to find a way forward on this issue.”
Ms Lovell said SIA would prioritise safety by campaigning on behalf of fishers until "they get the financial focus and assistance they desperately need”.
"The inquest also recommended a number of safety improvements such as personal locator beacons and ensuring vessel doors can be opened against water pressure,” she said.
"Our industry is working hard to improve safety. For example, SIA has asked the government for financial support of $5 million over four years to be used as a dollar-for-dollar matched contribution toward stability tests for higher risk fishing vessels.
"SIA also supports the SeSAFE initiative, a project which aims to raise awareness and improve safety in the fishing and aquaculture industry through simple training modules that deliver essential safety training such as man overboard and how to evacuate a ship.
This project is an important example of the industry and the Federal Government uniting to keep our fishers safe at sea.”