Written Answers. - Fishing Fleet.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

160 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources the extent to which he has satisfied himself at the application of health and safety regulations in the marine industry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7741/01]

I understand that the question relates to regulations governing the safe operation of Irish registered merchant vessels and fishing vessels. In relation to merchant vessels my aim is to ensure that the appropriate regulatory framework is in place to ensure that all Irish registered vessels operating to and from Ireland are constructed, maintained and operated to the highest international safety standards which emanate from the safety conventions of the International Maritime Organisation and from initiatives at European Union level. To that end, a continuing programme of work is under way in my Department to update our maritime law and ensure that all EU directives and all relevant IMO safety conventions, including amendments to SOLAS, Safety of Life at Sea, and STCW, Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping, are fully implemented.

Radio regulations governing all sizes of fishing vessels were introduced in 1998. Legislation providing for a harmonised safety regime for fishing vessels of 24 metres and over in length was also introduced in 1998 and required all such fishing vessels built since the mid-1980s to comply with the requirements of the Torremolinos international convention for the safety of fishing vessels.

For fishing vessels of less than 24 metres, there are extensive regulations in place which cover life-saving appliances, fire-fighting equipment and radio equipment. Work is well advanced on safety regulations for vessels of 12 to 24 metres and from six to 12 metres which have been the subject of consultation with the fishing industry. A code of safety practice for vessels under six metres is also being developed. In addition, the manning requirements and qualifications for officers on fishing vessels are in line with the STCW (F) (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping) Fishing Convention, 1995 which ensures that our fishing vessels are manned by highly trained professional crews.
The enforcement of all these regulations is carried out by the Marine Survey Office of my Department which inspects vessels to ensure that they are complying with the safety standards laid down.