The Falkland Islands government has informed that there have been two separate man-overboard incidents reported this week concerning a total of nine crewmen from two Taiwanese fishing vessels.
An extensive land and sea search carried out after two crew members were reported missing from their vessel in the early hours of Wednesday 18th February resulted in the recovery of the body of one of those missing. The other crewman remains unaccounted for.
The extensive search, which was carried out by the Emergency Services with the support from the UK military contingent and the RAF Search and Rescue team has now been downscaled.
The Emergency Services investigation into the incident is ongoing. The Falklands' government said no further details will be released until the next of kin of both crewmen have been notified and all investigations completed.
Royal Falkland Islands Police Superintendent, Len McGill thanked the community for their support in joining the rescue efforts and said that it was with “great sadness” that the search and rescue team could find no sign of the missing crewman.
“Both search efforts were well supported and included a vast array of resources, which were all quick to react to the news of the missing crew. We are constantly reviewing our action plans in light of incidents like these.”
Elected lawmaker MLA Phyl Rendell MBE, portfolio-holder for Natural Resources extended her “deepest sympathy” to the families of both the crewman who did not survive and the crewman who is still missing.
Fortunately, seven crewmen who were reported missing from the Taiwanese jigger Jin Li on Wednesday morning, sparking an extensive search around Hadassa Bay/Cape Pembroke area, were all located within 24 hours and found to be in good health.
MLA Rendell said she was “very relieved, along with the entire Falklands’ population, that the seven crew members have been found alive and well.”
Director of Natural Resources John Barton MBE said the incidents were something that everyone in the Islands takes very seriously.
We are committed to ending incidents of this kind and are working closely with fishing operators and flag states to ensure the safety of fishermen in Falklands waters.
This is a problem that extends beyond the Falklands’ fisheries, and in an attempt to resolve this issue, FIG has initiated dialogue with the states in which fishing vessels are flagged. Approaches have also been made via the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the states from where many of the crew are recruited and where crew recruitment agencies operate.”
FIG maintains a rigorous licensing regime to ensure all vessels operate to the highest possible standards. All vessels arriving to collect fishing licenses undergo an inspection checking essential lifesaving appliances; sufficient life raft places; equipment in date; and a host of other safety features. A significant proportion of vessels have extended inspections each year which verify that a wider range of safety equipment is in place. Failure to comply will result in no licenses being granted.
These inspections also give the opportunity for the inspecting Fishery Officers and attending Customs and Immigration officials to see the crew and to detect any potential problems or complaints. Throughout the season fisheries observers are deployed on a selection of vessels for two-three weeks to collect scientific data and to observe operations.
Likewise when an incident of jumping overboard occurs, the Captain and others will be subject to an investigation by Falklands' police, fisheries and custom officials to ascertain the circumstances, regardless of whether mistreatment is alleged. In the case of those crew who have jumped and/or who make allegations of maltreatment, the individuals will be accommodated onshore. The Captain and other crew will remain on the fishing vessel. Independent translators will be obtained so interviews are conducted impartially with no opportunity for pressure from Captain or Owners to be applied.
In addition to those crew who have left the vessel, the crew on the vessel will also be interviewed to get their views and see if they have any complaints. The results of such investigations – in which they crewmembers on-board are also interviewed independently of the Captain and other members of the crew – show that mistreatment is a very rare reason for jumping.
The man-overboard incidents occurred on the eve of China's New Year (4713) celebrations, which began 19 February, 2015. The event is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar. It's an occasion when families get together to celebrate.