FISHING boat owners can now take advantage of heavily discounted lifejackets, ahead of planned changes to the law.

Owners of active Welsh-registered commercial fishing vessels can now access grant aid to purchase personal flotation devices (PFDs) with integrated personal location beacons (PLBs) for their crew at a heavily discounted price of £15.

This is a saving of more than £350 per device.

Fishing is the most dangerous peacetime occupation in the UK.

However, the majority of fishermen still choose not to wear a PFD while working.

New legislation, likely to come into force later this year, will require commercial fishermen to wear PFDs on deck while working at sea, unless a written risk assessment demonstrates that they have eliminated the risk of going overboard.

The use of PLBs (or equivalent) will also become mandatory for small fishing vessels in October 2019 under the Small Fishing Vessel Code of Practice.

With the incoming new legislation and advancements in the wear-ability of PFDs it is hoped Welsh fishermen will lead the way in the UK by making the most of this part-funded opportunity and wearing the equipment at all times while working on deck.

Dr Holly Whiteley, Seafish Wales manager, said studies had shown more than 95 per cent of UK fishermen do not wearing safety devices.

"They are seen as cumbersome and unnecessary," she said.

"However, the new PFDs are more compact, comfortable and easy to wear.

"The reality is that you are five times more likely to survive an overboard incident when wearing one.

“If the new legislation comes into force as expected, wearing one will no longer be a choice – it will be mandatory.

"With both pieces of equipment together costing around £350, the financial implications will be significant, especially if you’re buying for an entire crew."

Funding has been made possible thanks to the Welsh Government and Seafarers UK, a charity that has been helping people in the maritime community for 100 years.

Cabinet Secretary for Energy, Planning and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths said: “I was pleased to confirm funding of over £105,000 towards the heavily discounted provision of personal flotation devices and personal locator beacons.

"As well as saving lives, this vital safety equipment will help fishermen comply with changes in health & safety legislation expected over the next two years.

“I want our fishermen to stay as safe as possible at all times and strongly encourage them to take advantage of this discounted price”.

To apply for grant funding, vessel owners must act before May 31.

Visit and download the application form.

Forms can also be requested directly from Seafish by calling 0131 524 8602.