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The safety of those who work at sea is non-negotiable and enforcement action will be taken against those who compromise it, according to the chief executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

Brian Johnson’s statement was released on Monday (26 June) as it was revealed that action is being taken against more than 40 fishing vessels who failed spot checks on their safety equipment.

More than a fifth of the fishing vessels subjected to random checks in ports across Scotland the Southwest of England have either been detained or prohibited from being used for fishing.

Surveyors from the MCA visited ports unannounced during seven days of June this year, and inspected 212 vessels at random. All sizes of vessel were inspected and a total of 1,249 deficiencies or non-compliant items were found across all those inspected, with just 14 vessels fully compliant with the regulations.

The worst areas for non-compliance were life-saving appliances, firefighting equipment, ILO188 and vessel and crew documentation. 

Just over 20% (44) of the vessels inspected faced enforcement action, with some being detained until the faults were put right and others facing prohibition notices which would stop them being used for fishing.

Brian Johnson, chief executive with the MCA, said the campaign revealed good and bad news.

He said: “The good news is that nearly 80 per cent of those inspected were found to be in general compliance. The bad news is that over 20 per cent were not. 

“This is about the safety of those who work in the fishing industry. This year alone we’ve seen seven people die and we must continue to do all we can to keep people safe at sea. That has to include preventing vessels from continuing to operate if it is clear they are not compliant with the standards of safety set out in the regulations.

“While we continue to work with the industry, we will also continue to take enforcement action against vessels, their owners and skippers where serious non-compliance is identified. That safety is non-negotiable.”