Examination of the literature reveals a paucity of dedicated research into collisions and groundings involving UK fishing vessels. The aim of this research was to provide answers to fundamental questions regarding the factors that contribute to fishing vessel traffic losses. Data for this study were gathered from a broad range of sources and an eclectic range of techniques employed in their analysis. The recent development of the UK fishing fleet and the pattern of losses from all causes is investigated for the period 1975 to 1994. Fishing vessel collision and grounding losses are then set in relative perspective by comparison with those arising from other causes. Aspects of the macro-environment in which the UK fishing fleet has operated since 1975 are examined and the results interpreted in the form of a comparative regional analysis. The micro-environment prevailing in the fishing fleet is exemplified through combining an array of observations made at sea on board working fishing vessels with questionnaire responses drawn from representative samples of British fishermen in 22 fishing ports around the country. A previously unattempted composite analysis of the circumstances of fishing vessel collision and grounding losses is presented and this allows for a number of conclusions to be drawn. A causal analysis technique is applied to fishing vessel casualties for the first time and leads to the identification of human factors as a more significant contributor to traffic losses than either technical or environmental factors. A novel programme of cross-validated observations of fishing vessel watch keepers in their working environment was pursued, providing data on how attention is allocated, workload levels at different stages in the fishing cycle and also on the watchkeeper's cognitive state while on duty. The thesis concludes with a wide ranging discussion and recommendations based on the research that could contribute to reducing loss of life and vessels in traffic events, made with due consideration for the physical and fiscal constraints that impinge upon the UK fishing fleet.

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