A 300,000 grant from the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) and European Fisheries Fund (EFF) has helped the Western Training Association to install a full ship's bridge and radar simulator at its centre in Crownhill, Plymouth.
The new development will be used to deliver a number of additional courses and qualifications at the centre, including:
- class 1, 2 and 3 peripherals
- small ships radar
- electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS)
- navigation, radar and simulation (NARAS)
It will also be able to provide full bridge management training to the standard required by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and, in addition, it is hoped it will be used as a research tool to assist in vessel operational safety and vessel accident prevention.
It is hoped the development will help fishermen to obtain the necessary qualifications to diversify their role within the fishing industry should they wish, such as offshore renewable energy projects. Currently many of their existing qualifications are not transferable to merchant marine roles.
Although the centre is aimed primarily at people from the Cornwall and Devon area it is hoped others from around the country will also take advantage of the opportunities on offer.
Hazel Bennett, WTA Training Manager said: "This facility will help us to provide qualifications that would otherwise be difficult for fishermen to access.
"We believe this will be the cornerstone that enables Cornwall and Devon to be recognised as the fishing and maritime training hub of England and Wales. A lot of work and investment has been put in to making this happen and I am so pleased we have been successful."
Philip Davey, Development Director of the Western Training Association said "We are delighted the MMO has recognised the importance of this project to the fishing industry and more widely how it fits strategically with the needs of the regions maritime sector.
"This funding will support a more successful maritime and fisheries sector throughout Cornwall and Devon, capable of reacting to new maritime legislation and operating in a way that is flexible and able to diversify into other marine operations to the benefit of many communities."
Catherine Murphy, EFF England Programme Manager, from the Marine Management Organisation said "This project has been welcomed by the fishing industry and Im pleased we are able to support it.
"Fishermen have a wealth of maritime knowledge and skills which this facility will develop further. This expertise may be of particular benefit to fishermens knowledge of expanding sectors such as offshore renewable energy.