The number of accidents at sea is rising because fishermen and merchant shippers put profit above safety, a report by the British marine accident investigation branch said. The branch said 39 U.K.-registered fishing vessels were lost and 32 fishermen died in 2000, the highest rate since it began recording accidents in 1992.
"A lot of people out there are trying extremely hard to produce a good service, (with) well-run ships, well-motivated and well-trained crews," Chief Marine Accident Inspector John Lang told BBC Radio
"But they are being undermined continually by a percentage ... of people who are constantly trying to evade international safety regulations and labour standards."
Lang said vessels were often undermanned, which led to exhaustion of crew members and a failure to post night lookouts. "They can cut their costs, they provide a cheaper service -- and not unnaturally people will go for that cheaper option, which disadvantages the man who has put so much effort into observing safety standards," he added. Among the most high-profile accidents on British waters in 2000 was the loss of the Solway Harvester. Seven fishermen died when scallop dredger sank off the Isle of Man
, in the Irish sea
. - (Reuters)