23 September 1993 – 23 November 2013
The SeSAFE program has a sad genesis, the death of Ryan Donoghue, a beloved fisherman aboard an Austral Fisheries prawn trawler, Newfish 1, in 2013. The SeSAFE program and the safety benefits it is working towards forms a significant part of Ryan’s legacy, and a reminder to fishermen and others working in this very dangerous industry the importance of safety at sea.
Ryan Donoghue was born 23 September 1993 in West Sussex, United Kingdom, and came to Australia with his family at the age of six. Ryan was an enthusiastic and skilled young man and at the age of nineteen he took on a role shark fishing in the Bass Strait. Soon after he joined the Newfish 1 as deckhand in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Ryan loved working in the fishing industry and his efforts were soon rewarded with promotion to the role of First Mate.
Sadly, Ryan passed away in the most tragic of circumstances. On 29 November 2013, while using an angle grinder to cut shackles off the nets, a wave washed over the deck and engulfed Ryan. Despite all efforts by his fellow crew to save him, Ryan was fatally electrocuted. The power outlet into which the angle grinder was plugged was later found to be unprotected by a residual current device.
SeSAFE is the flagship program born from this tragedy. The Australian fishing and aquaculture industry is in fact one of the most high-risk industries in the nation. To tackle and drive significant change and improve safety performance, Austral Fisheries in partnership with the Fishing Research and Development Corporation, has developed a first-of-its kind online Learning Management System (LMS). The LMS includes multiple training modules designed to train and inform fishermen on a variety of work health and safety practices before heading out to sea. The SeSAFE program aims to strengthen the safety culture in the seafood industry, and along the way ensure Ryan’s legacy serves as a reminder of the importance of safety at all times.
Austral Fisheries is deeply sorry for the tragic death of Ryan, which has deeply affected and touched the lives of many individuals within Austral Fisheries and the wider commercial fishing industry, along with Ryan’s family, his loved ones and friends. Following a coronial inquest, Austral Fisheries has entered into an ‘Enforceable Undertaking’ with NT Worksafe, as an alternative to being prosecuted. The Enforceable Undertaking will implement a range of safety initiatives aimed at improving workplace health and safety across the Australian seafood industry.
Ryan is remembered as one of the most kind and considerate young men by all those who knew him, and the SeSAFE program and Austral Fisheries continue to honour Ryan with each step taken towards improving education and safety at sea.