The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has released its Annual Overview of Marine Casualties and Incidents for 2021.
This publication contains statistics on marine casualties and incidents which: involve ships flying a flag of one of the EU Member States; occur within EU Member States’ territorial sea or internal waters as defined in UNCLOS; or involve other substantial interests of EU Member States, as reported by Member States in the EU database for maritime incidents EMCIP (European Marine Casualty Information Platform). The figures from the EMCIP database cover the period from 01 January 2014 to 31 December 2020.
Key figures show that in the fishing industry there were 617 incidents, fifteen of which resulted in very serious casualties, 10 in fatalities, 217 persons injured, with 646 ships being involved resulting in six ships being lost.
Even if some figures showed improvements when it relates to fishing vessels, such as the number of fatalities or vessels lost, the deterioration started in 2019 continued in 2020.
The fishing vessel occurrence indicator continued increasing, and for the first time over 2014- 2020, it went above 100. Even if it remained in average one of the best values in comparison with other ship types, it was the only indicator that continued increasing in 2020 (+38%). A total of 4132 fishing vessels were involved in a marine casualty or incident over the period 2014-2020, which represented 17% of all occurrences. The number of fishing vessels involved continued increasing in 2020. Since 2015, it increased from 466 to 646 in 2020. This was also noted while analysing the fishing vessel occurrence indicator, that continuously went up from 58 in 2014 to 137 in 2020. If the main categories of fishing vessels (trawlers, seiners, liners, gillnetters and dredgers) showed occurrences indicators around 50 in average, the other fishing vessels have their indicators increasing from 156 to 568 over the period.
Among the fishing vessels, trawlers represented, from 2014 to 2020, the main type having incidents with 52% of all fishing vessels involved.
The rate of Very Serious casualties is 5.3%, and 44.7% when the severity is Serious. In both cases, the severity of occurrences affecting fishing vessels is much higher compared to the overall fleet, where Very Serious occurrences represent 3% and the serious ones 25%.
Over the period 2014-2020, the number of events related to issues of a navigational nature, such as contacts, grounding/stranding and collision, represented 36.8%, at equal level with the loss of propulsion power. As concerns occurrences to person(s), slipping, stumbling and falling of persons on one hand (25.6%) and loss of control of machines on the other hand (23.4%) were the main deviations that occurred onboard fishing vessels.
In 2020, six fishing vessels were lost, which corresponds to the lowest number of fishing vessels lost over 2014-2020. Still, when comparing with all ships, fishing vessels remained the category where the number of lost vessels is much higher than for any category (106 fishing vessels lost out of a total of 180). Among the fishing vessel losses, almost half of them were trawlers.
During the 2014-2020 period, 101 accidents involving fishing vessels resulted in a total of 191 lives lost. The decrease observed since 2016, despite a reverse in 2019, continued and resulted in the lowest number of lives lost in 2020 (10). Crew have been the most impacted category of victims over this period with 186 fatalities.
In 2020 there were 217 injured persons reported. This number constant since 2017.
While the departure and arrival phases appeared to be the safest segments of a fishing vessel voyage, the en route segment, when fishing operations take place, is by far the most unsafe. It was noted that 77% of the casualties occurred in coastal waters and open sea, where fishing vessels operate.
When analysing underlying factors leading to casualties, safety investigations determined that 89% of safety investigations were related to “Human Action”. Shipboard operations represented 67.2% of the reported contributing factors. Such figures are similar to all ship types figures.
In conclusion, while the number of fatalities of fishing vessels lost have decreased, other figures remained equivalent or deteriorated. In particular, the number of fishing vessels involved in a marine casualty has continuously increased since 2015, despite a limited decrease in 2018 while the continued increase of the fishing vessel occurrence indicator provided a negative view on fishing vessel safety.
To read the full report, click here.