MAIB support Wolfson Unit recommendations

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch have published a report into their investigation of the loss of the fishing vessel Heather Anne, which capsized in December 2011 with one fatality. They found that the vessel had undergone extensive modification which had reduced her stability and freeboard, and concluded that she was heavily overloaded with fish when she capsized. She had a freeboard of only about 130mm and very little stability, but this heavy loading was not an isolated incident. As in some previous investigation reports, they argue the case for some form of simple loading guidance and here they conclude that “The Wolfson Guidance mark is potentially a very useful tool to help fishing vessel skippers decide on the loading of their vessels in varying sea conditions.”

They issued a number of recommendations including the introduction of stability regulations for small fishing vessels and wearing of lifejackets on deck. They also recommended that the MCA, the Marine Management Organisation and the Cornish Fish Producers Organisation “Work together to arrange trials of the ‘Wolfson’ mark on board a selection of Cornish fishing vessels under 15m in order to gather sufficient data to enable the MCA to provide clear evidence on the marks’ practicality, accuracy and usefulness.

Since developing this method of guidance for the MCA in 2006, the Wolfson Unit has campaigned for its implementation to improve safety. We hope that this report will bring the method to the attention of the industry as a whole, and that the support of the MAIB will promote its acceptance.

For a copy of the MAIB report please follow this link

To obtain the guidance for your vessel please see our Safety Guidance Information page

Wolfson Unit freeboard guidance mark on the Heather Anne