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BIM and RNLI offer aquaculture operators free survival course

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Two Man Overboard Challenges, which aim to help prepare those working in boats - including aquaculture operators - to survive should they or one of their colleagues fall into the sea, are being held in Ireland in 2024.

Participants of the challenge experience an overboard experience in full gear and learn how to survive

© Nathan Williams, RNLI

Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), Ireland's seafood development agency, has once again joined forces with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) to run a number of man overboard challenges in 2024.

Occurring in the Errigal training centre, on 9 February and the National Maritime College of Ireland, on Wednesday 14 February, the free one-day experiences are open to anyone working onboard a fishing vessel, or shoreside, including those in the aquaculture sector.

The challenge

The sessions are designed to mimic a realistic incidence of falling into cold sea conditions, wearing full work clothing and without a lifejacket. This is then followed by the same experience with a correctly fitted personal floatation device.

Although the conditions are controlled and undertaken under the watchful eye of experienced RNLI trainers, they provide a lifelike experience, simulating how work clothing, oilskins, and boots affect a person’s buoyancy, coupled with challenging sea conditions. The sessions also underpin the importance of having and following a man overboard recovery plan.

Ian Mannix, skills manager with BIM welcomed the returning challenge, saying in a press release: “Safety at sea cannot be underestimated. When something goes wrong in the water, things can turn lethal in a heartbeat. Being prepared, knowing the correct procedures, and wearing a correctly fitted personal floatation device is paramount for survival. This man overboard challenge will ensure participants have lived experience that sets them up for survival.”

This year, BIM and the RNLI are also welcoming those who would like to join as observers to the sessions.

Frankie Horne, fishing safety manager, RNLI, who delivers the course stated: “Sometimes watching a person go through this visceral experience and witnessing how challenging it is to stay afloat without a personal flotation device can help drive the message home. Almost 50 percent of fatalities at sea in recent years were because of accidental immersion or man overboard (MOB). When you go overboard, capable people become incapable very quickly. Be rigged and ready.”

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