BIM has announced plans for a €1.5 million Sea Survival Training Centre at their National Fisheries College in Greencastle, Co Donegal.

The development will include a ‘state-of-the-art’ 15 metre simulator pool with an elevated platform equipped with a wave machine; a water-spray unit and fans to reproduce extreme weather conditions; two changing areas; a self-contained heating unit capable of maintaining water temperature of 23 -28 oC; a water treatment unit and a classroom for 16 students.

BIM Sea sursvival training Centre

Capt James Hegarty, Principal, National Fisheries College of Ireland, Greencastle; Paul Cunningham, Class 3 Engineering Student, Killybegs, Co Donegal; Joe McHugh, TD and Tara McCarthy, BIM chief executive

BIM says the facility will complement the existing training infrastructure already in place. It will also include a fire-fighting unit; a fully integrated fishing vessel simulator; vessel dry land trawler deck,engine room and workshop and seven classrooms.

During a tour of the College, Joe McHugh, Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs and the Department of Communications with Special Responsibility for Gaeltacht Affairs and Natural Resources, said he “fully supported” BIM’s plans.

“As a fishing community, Greencastle and the wider Donegal region are only too aware of the dangers fishermen face every time they go to sea. When you consider that 53 fishermen have lost their lives at sea in the last ten years, and according to national figures, fishing is approximately 13 times more dangerous than construction and 36 times more dangerous than general employment, we must [provide] fishermen with the safest boats, the best safety technology and the best training to prepare them for all eventualities.

“BIM does an exemplary job delivering this service, and the plans for this new centre will ensure the National Fisheries College is delivering a bespoke training service to our fishermen and a safer industry as a result.”

Training in personal survival techniques is a vital part of BIM’s Safety at Sea programme and is a mandatory requirement for all fishermen before they go to sea.

“We recently ran a nationwide advertising campaign, Live to Tell the Tale, designed to strike a chord with fishermen; to change their behaviour and to ask them to wear a Personal Flotation Device as they would wear a seat belt in a car. The safety training we deliver throughout the year was a key part of the campaign,” explained Tara McCarthy, BIM chief executive.

Without the right training, fishermen will not know how to react when faced with an accident at sea, she added.

On average, four fishermen lose their lives at sea annually; “preparing fishermen for the worst case scenario is crucial to reducing fatalities”, she stressed.

“The new BIM Sea Survival Training Centre will allow our trainers to test what fishermen have learnt in the classroom with the reality of a genuine incident at sea against a range of adverse weather conditions.”

In 2015, BIM’s training service delivered 207 courses in 25 locations to 1,700 students equating to 14,000 contact hours.

Completion is expected by 2017 and will serve fishermen from Clare, Galway, Sligo, Donegal, Louth and Dublin. The project will bring the National Fisheries College in line with ‘international best practice’.

Visit BIM’s website and social media pages to hear more stories of fishermen who lived to tell the tale. Join in the conservation on twitter @BordIascMhara hashtag #livetotell