App set to help North Sea fishermen be safe

Niall Scott (FLTC Services Limited chairman), and John Watt (former skipper and director of marine operations at Scottish Fishermen's Federation Services Ltd), and Mick Borwell (environment director at Oil & Gas UK).
Niall Scott (FLTC Services Limited chairman), and John Watt (former skipper and director of marine operations at Scottish Fishermen's Federation Services Ltd), and Mick Borwell (environment director at Oil & Gas UK).

An App has been launched which will help make life safer for North Sea fishermen with help from the oil and gas industry.

The “FishSAFE” Companion App will give information about oil and gas equipment on sea bed and surface, ranging from platforms to subsea pipelines - so fishermen can better understand what the object is.

It is designed to complement FishSAFE Information and the FishSAFE unit which are already used by hundreds of skippers who fish in the North Sea.

The new free app provides extra information about objects such as subsea wellheads, pipelines and protective structures. The size of equipment is indicated by a scale representation using easily-recognisable objects such as a person, bus or plane so fishermen can easily see how big the potential hazards are in comparison. Users can also type in their own notes in case, for example, the item has moved.

FishSAFE was set up after four men died when the Arbroath trawler Westhaven sank after it snagged on an underwater pipeline in 1997.

Niall Scott, FLTC Services Limited chairman, said the new app will help fishermen by giving them more information about potential hazards shown in the FishSAFE Information data and the FishSAFE unit.

He said: “We all want our fishing fleet to be as safe as possible. The additional information in the FishSAFE Companion App is presented in a really easy-to-access way.

We are really pleased with the app as it provides information on people’s smartphones or tablets so they don’t have to buy or maintain an extra piece of kit , it’s there in their hands when they need it.

“There are thousands of oil and gas objects on the sea bed and on the surface, with 26,000 kilometers of pipelines alone – and many of them can be a potential hazard for fishing vessels.

In the long term, platforms will be decommissioned and in some cases operators will receive consent to leave part of the infrastructure on the sea bed so we needed a lasting place for information on potential hazards which would also be easily accessed, which is what the FishSAFE Information Project is all about.

“We really appreciate the help of everyone involved, from the oil and gas companies who provide the information, the people who work for them who input and collate the information, feedback from the fishing industry and substantial financial support in grants from the Scottish Government and the European Union through the European Fisheries Fund.

“We’re here to help prevent snagging accidents and help save fishermen’s lives, and we hope the app can go a long way to providing information to do that.”

Fishermen can download the app while onshore or at sea and the information is permanently stored on their smartphone or tablet so they can easily view it, even when there’s no mobile phone coverage.