Commercial fishing is the most dangerous occupation in Europe. In the UK for example, typically some 20 to 25 fishermen are killed in fishing accidents each year, which is many times greater than in other industries.
The major seabed exploiting industries, other than fishing, in north western European waters are oil and gas exploration and production, submarine telecommunication cable industry, offshore renewables industry, and Power Interconnectors. In an attempt to reduce accidents, interaction has been established between fishermen and offshore operators to ensure mutual understanding of respective industries is established.
Over the past decade there has been the introduction and construction of Offshore Wind Farms and Interconnector Power cables being installed. Although the dangers to fishing have been emphasised above, it should also be noted that fishing gear can cause severe damage to submarine cables - resulting not only in expensive repairs but also disrupted communications, loss of power to the National Grid, and lost revenue.
The KIS-ORCA project is a progression and information upgrade to the previous KISCA project and provides current information, updates, and an interactive website pertaining to Telecoms; Offshore Renewables; and Interconnector Power Cables around Great Britain and Europe. Many companies published (and will rightly continue to publish) flyers, other ad-hoc material and also notices are published on the Kingfisher Fortnightly Bulletin to alert fishermen of the routes of their cables and any potential hazards to fishermen.
Kingfisher, a department within the SeaFish Industry Authority have now completed the first phase of the KIS-ORCA project aimed at improving safety to fishermen and protection of submarine cables. This 2 year phase which started in August 2012, is a completely new design from the original KISCA project in that it will provide an interactive website with live news feeds as received; interactive charts with various information layers which can be turned off and on at will and to enable the most up to date information to be disseminated to the fishing industry. As with the KISCA website, fishermen can also view and download the latest Kingfisher Fortnightly Bulletins, and also relevant plotter files.
The waters covered by the project are extensive - the North Sea, English Channel (La Manche), Bristol Channel/Southwest Approaches, Irish Sea and West of Scotland (i.e. ICES Areas IV, VII and VI) - and therefore include cables between the coasts of Norway, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Ireland and the UK.
Fishermen are able to receive information of cable routes and other physical details (e.g. repeaters, splices, etc), together with emergency contact numbers and procedures in Electronic format - The production and free distribution of this data in electronic format, compatible with the most common fishing plotter systems including Litton Fishmaster, TMPlanner/Quodfish, Sodena, Trax, Maxsea, SIS Microplot, Winfish, Penta, Transas Navifish 3000, and ORLEX systems.
The data is also available for download over the Internet - both in readable text/graphic form as pdf files, and as files ready encrypted for the supported plotter systems. The final objective is the free distribution of the data, in the most useable form, to all relevant fishing vessels working in the waters covered.
Within the UK, both the Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) and the National Federation of Fishermen's Organizations (NFFO), are partners in this project, assisting with the local distribution of discs, with Seafish organising physical distribution to the rest of Europe, Internet distribution, and the issue of licenses to electronic charting companies.
In addition, Kingfisher, Seafish is actively promoting both the KIS-ORCA project and cable awareness generally by attending the major fishing exhibitions throughout Europe, at which cable awareness information is available. Cable awareness packs are also available to the Seafish supported network of Group Training Associations (GTA's), who are responsible for organising fishermen's safety training in the UK, and any similar organisations in mainland Europe.
To find out more about the KIS-ORCA project, or to order disks or download plotter files, please visit the KIS-ORCA pages on www.kis-orca.org