EU Boat Safety Consultation Could Impact Scilly

The EU has launched a review of passenger ship safety, which could have far reaching consequences for our inter-island boats in Scilly.

Current EU safety regulations only cover passenger ships made out of steel, which means they don’t apply to the wood or fibreglass vessels commonly seen here.

But EU officials have realised these boats, as well as wooden training vessels and historic ships, have been slipping through the net and have started a public consultation which could lead to them being included in new maritime safety legislation

The key impact here could be the number of life-rafts that boats have to carry.

The current rules on steel vessels say 110% of the total passenger capacity of the vessel must be accommodated in the life-rafts.

But since life-rafts tend to carry 50 passengers each, a boat carrying 100 people will need to carry 3 life-rafts instead of the current 2, taking up considerably more space on deck.

Consultants appointed by the EU were set to visit Scilly this week but had to cancel due to problems arranging travel.

Chairman of the St Mary’s Boatsmen’s Association, Jeremy Phillips, says he doesn’t feel any proposed changes will have an immediate impact here in Scilly.

Jeremy says they’ve been here many times before with the introduction of new safety rules and he says it’s down to the UK national marine regulator, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, to find a way to apply any new EU rules without affecting normal business operations.

Anyone wishing to respond to the public consultation should go to the European Commission’s website.