Highlights

  • the average length of a sleep period is less than 6 hours
  • the longest time spent awake on a single trip is 20 hours
  • less than half of vessels have a sleep roster (even though they’re travelling for several
    days at a time).

Maritime NZ issued a summary of the findings:

What's the problem?

  • Fatigue is a common problem for those spending long periods at sea. All the fishermen were aware of fatigue's potential danger, with most having experienced some of the warning signs.
  • Over all, the fishermen agree that fatigue is ‘somewhat of’ a problem (5.5 on a scale of 0-10). Yet, worryingly, more than 40% claim to not have received any training on fatigue.

What are the signs?

  • Although all the fishermen were aware of fatigue, few seemed to recognise all the warning signs. ‘Feeling tiredness’ is the most obvious, as identified by 96% of respondents. This is followed by ‘slow responses’ (72%), and ‘risk taking’ (50%).
  • Some of the lesser known warning signs include 'skin problems', 'cravings' and 'allergies', which are only recognised by 10%, 8% and 4% of the fishermen respectively.

What are the dangers?

  • More than half of the fishermen (52%) experience mood swings as a result of fatigue,
  • Even more (56%) admit they'd made mistakes on the job when fatigued.
  • Then there are those who fell asleep at the wheel (34%), made a bad decision (42%) and were easily distracted or unable to concentrate (39%) – all because of fatigue.

How is fatigue being managed?

Some of the fishermen manage fatigue on the job, while others take preventative steps before sailing. Here are some of the steps they're taking:

--> On the job:

  • ensuring two people are on the bridge, or using a watch alarm
  • following a sleep roster and watchkeeping timetable
  • taking power naps
  • monitoring themselves for warning signs.

--> Before sailing:

  • getting adequate sleep
  • eating and drinking well, and avoiding alcohol
  • developing a fatigue and/or time management plan
  • carefully planning trips
  • employing enough staff to ensure that everyone gets a break
  • keeping the vessel well maintained.

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