With figures showing the number of people drowning in ports, harbours and marinas on the increase, and those who work in the fishing industry at even greater risk, an Anglesey-based social enterprise has decided to take action.

Under its FLAG project, Menter Môn has launched two initiatives which it hopes will saves the lives of those working close to and on the sea.

The first project has seen reach poles installed at five ports across north Wales.

The aim is to provide additional safety and rescue equipment designed to help someone in the water. By working with, local authorities, the fishing industry and RNLI safety teams, key locations were identified where there was a danger to life and where the reach poles would provide maximum benefit.

Craig Hughes, the FLAG project officer with Menter Môn, said: “The majority of deaths in ports and harbours happen as a result of slip, trips and falls as people embark or disembark boats and other vessels.

"We were keen to reduce this number, by working with the fishing industry, port authorities and the RNLI we identified the safety equipment which could prevent injury and loss of life."

The reach poles have been installed at Amlwch, Pwllheli, Conwy, Rhyl and Connah’s Quay. The ports were chosen because of the high quay walls, fast flowing tides, or sinking sand making it more difficult to get people out of the water.

The second initiative, called ‘Man Over Board’ pilots the use of new technology to reduce the impact of man over board incidents among fishers. With most who work in the fishing industry in north Wales operating from small vessels in inshore waters and sailing alone, the risk they face is even greater.

Craig said: “We know that fishers face a risk of death six times higher than the most dangerous jobs on land. This increases when a fisher works alone. In an effort to tackle this we have been running a pilot project where different Man Over Board (MOB) devices have been installed on 10 vessels.

"The devices work by cutting the engine of a boat when a person falls into the water. We wanted to trial the different types of technology available to find which are most effective and to raise awareness amongst local fishers that there are steps they can take to improve their own safety.”

It is hoped that the findings of the pilot will help inform future safety measures aboard fishing boats which will in turn save lives.

Fishing safety expert Trevor Jones said: " The Welsh fishing industry is grateful to Menter Môn and the FLAG project for having taken this project to fruition.

"It will inevitably make the industry safer.

“Falling into the sea is the most common cause of death in the fishing industry. If you can’t get out of the water, it is only a matter of time before you succumb. The MOB ignition cut out trial has demonstrated that getting the boat to stop increases the chance of being able to get back onboard and surviving.

"It has also showed the importance of having risk assessed, trialled and more importantly, tested ways of getting back onboard which works for single handed and crewed vessel.”

Speaking about the two projects, Gary Pittaway, Water Safety Officer and Launch Authority from the RNLI said: “These two projects are very important, and we welcome the steps Menter Môn, through FLAG, has taken to improve safety both at sea as well as in and around our ports, harbours and marinas.

"We accept that incidents happen where people find themselves in the water and in danger - these initiatives will no doubt help to reduce the number of deaths by drowning. We will continue to work together to raise awareness, educate and to promote safety at sea.”

Both projects have been funded through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, managed by the Welsh Government.