June 6, 2018


Bureau of Aquaculture

Environmental Analysts from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg)’s Bureau of Aquaculture are on the water year round in a variety of temperatures and conditions.  Having survival knowledge should anything happen is essential to keeping staff safe while on the water.

On Thursday, May 10, several DoAg staff joined some members of the Connecticut shellfishing industry in safety and survival training at the University of Connecticut, Avery Point Campus in Groton, CT.

Participants learned from Coast Guard Certified Fishing Vessel Safety Instructors about man-overboard procedures, firefighting, emergency communications, flooding, pump operation, flares, emergency-position-indicating-radio beacons (EPIRB), survival suits, life raft-equipment, and basic first aid.

The man-overboard training was one of the most useful modules in this training, since it would likely be the one encountered most often by DoAg staff.

Often, there are only two members aboard a vessel at one time—one captaining the vessel while another collects samples.

The staff collecting samples often has to lean slightly out of the boat and—while under ideal conditions this would not be an issue—if another boat comes by and creates a wake, or a larger wave tosses the vessel and the staff member is not adequately braced against the hull, it is possible for that staff member to be thrown overboard.

Although DoAg staff wear personal flotation devices while aboard the vessel, staff was surprised to find that it is actually extremely difficult for one person to lift another out of the water and haul them back on board the vessel.

Having this knowledge allows DoAg staff to better prepare their vessels with ladders and other methods of lifting someone who has fallen overboard.

A second-day course was also offered for one to become a Certified Drill Conductor, which is necessary to run monthly safety drills.

DoAg Boat Captain Rick Seiden intends to become a Certified Drill Conductor in order to run safety drills each month aboard DoAg vessels.

This training was held by Fishing Partnership Support Services (FPSS) and sponsored by Connecticut Sea Grant. FPSS is a non-profit organization that initially began in 1997 as a health plan to provide insurance for commercial fishermen and their families who are high-risk and chronically uninsured.

Today, now that health insurance is more widely available, FPSS has expanded their mission to provide assistance with health insurance applications, connections of professional counseling services, and offer safety and survival trainings.

This organization focuses mainly on training fishermen working in New England, going from Maine to Long Island, since New England waters are some of the most dangerous in the country.

FPSS safety and survival training is primarily tailored to fishermen who are out on the water in all sorts of conditions.

Having hands-on experience operating various pieces of safety equipment helps DoAg staff be better prepared should an emergency situation arise. Although emergency situations happen infrequently, this course was a great tool to expose staff to the potential dangers in the marine environment.