The prevailing wisdom is that accident reporting systems should be formally developed through maritime administrations as per the accepted commercial maritime model – see the Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS) database on Maritime Casualties and Incidents. However, it is important to note that fishers may be reluctant to report accidents to the authorities. It has been suggested that the establishment of an effective industry-run confidential reporting system is possibly the single greatest innovation that could be made to improve world fishing safety.
The premise is simple. If a system’s users – the people at the “sharp end” of day-to-day operations – can be encouraged to report the safety problems they encounter to a program they can trust, safety goals will be reached much sooner than if we never hear the stories of those lessons learned. By providing a no-blame reporting channel, we can actively work on preventing reoccurrence and reducing the unnecessarily high accident and fatality rate at sea.
One of the particular interesting observations in the “Draft Guidelines to Competent Authorities in Implementing an Accident Reporting and Analysis System for Small Fishing Vessels” Report was that “the accident reporting and analysis functions should be separated from the regulating and law enforcement functions”. [See page 30]. Expanding somewhat on this observation then, the voluntary option is floated as it is noted that fishers may be reluctant to report accidents to the authorities (Fisheries Departments, Coastguard or Police). Acknowledging this, yet recognising the importance of accident reporting, it may be that a confidential reporting system is established to supplement the mandatory program.
This approach has proven very successful in other high-risk industries, notably maritime, aviation and nuclear.
For examples of how this has worked, in the aviation industry, see:
· Also: Skybrary
The commercial maritime sector currently runs two confidential reporting programs (for which we are international Ambassadors):
· CHIRP (Confidential Hazardous Incident Reporting Program)
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