First National Fishing Remembrance Day Honours Lives Lost at Sea

Sunday 12 May marked the inaugural National Fishing Remembrance Day, a new annual event dedicated to honouring those who lost their lives while working in the fishing industry. The day served as a poignant reminder of the perils faced while fishing at sea and the need to continue to improve safety standards in the sector.

Maritime charities, The Seafarers’ Charity, Fishermen’s Mission, and Stella Maris joined forces to develop and support this new event. The first-ever National Fishing Remembrance Day saw many local remembrance services held at fishing memorials across the UK, from Wick in northern Scotland to Milford Haven in Wales, from Grimsby and Newlyn in England to Kilkeel in Northern Ireland, as well as Guernsey and Jersey in the Channel Islands, where communities gathered to pay their respects.

The Seafarers’ Charity’s Chief Executive, Deborah Layde, alongside Fisheries Minister Sir Mark Spencer, The Fishermen’s Mission CEO Marc Evans, Seafish CEO Marcus Coleman, and Stella Maris’s trustee John Hood joined representatives of the local fishing community in Grimsby to mark the occasion.

National Fishing Remembrance Day Service in Grimsby, 12 May 2024

Minister Spencer laid a wreath to honour the lives of those lost at sea and recognised the valuable service of our fishermen. He later said: ‘I have huge respect for our fishermen. It’s tough, dangerous work carried out in challenging conditions. Today I was humbled to join families and the fishing community of Grimsby for the first National Fishing Remembrance Day.’

Deborah Layde also laid a wreath and shared the rationale behind the creation of a new National Fishing Remembrance Day. She said:

“We are deeply honoured to have been asked by Government to lead the development of this inaugural National Fishing Remembrance Day in the UK. The success and desire for this new National Fishing Remembrance Day is evident in the remembrance services held across 24 diverse locations nationwide and the extent of support from Government and various government departments involved in supporting fishing safety. With the active participation of UK Government officials, fishing industry representatives, maritime welfare charities, and local fishing communities, this National Fishing Remembrance Day truly embodies our collective dedication and determination to ensure that future generations of fishers can work in safer conditions.”

Lord Davies of Gower, in his role as the Maritime Minister also shared a message on social media on the day which read: ‘Fishing is a key industry with a long history in Britain but sadly it remains a dangerous profession with casualties and the loss of life every year. Today marks the first National Fishing Remembrance Day – a chance to honour those who have lost their lives fishing.’

While the staff and volunteers of the Fishermen’s Mission and Stella Maris led the delivery of local events, The Seafarers’ Charity has worked hard over the past two years to galvanise support and interest for the day amongst key stakeholders. On the day, our direct efforts resulted in support from a range of government departments and key stakeholders including DEFRA, Department for Transport, Maritime & Coastguard Agency, HM Coastguard, Marine Accident Investigation Branch, Marine Management Organisation, Seafish, Royal Museums Greenwich, British Ports Association and even the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

In addition to the day itself, The Seafarers’ Charity has supported the development of an interactive map by Royal Museums Greenwich, highlighting fishing memorials across the UK. This initiative aims to raise awareness of the sacrifices made by fishermen and ensure their legacy is preserved for future generations.

Despite advances in safety measures, fishing remains one of the most perilous occupations in the UK, with recent tragedies occurring off the coasts of north-east Scotland and southern England in 2023. The impact of fishing disasters extends beyond immediate families, affecting entire fishing communities. To help prevent such tragic loss of life, The Seafarers’ Charity has committed resources to improve fishing safety now, and into the future.

As we reflect on the sacrifices made by fishers, we also celebrate their invaluable contributions to our coastal communities. The Seafarers’ Charity is proud to stand alongside maritime organisations in honouring the memory of those lost at sea and will continue advocating for a safer future for all who work in commercial fishing.

Find out more about how The Seafarers’ Charity is improving fishing safety.

Next year’s National Fishing Remembrance Day will be on Sunday, 11 May, 2025.

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