Prawn boss calls for safety overhaul in Australia’s most valuable prawn fishery

The owner of the largest fleet in Australia’s most valuable prawn fishery has called on industry and regulators to get its “less than average” safety record in order.

Arthur Raptis said a “culture of acceptance” had led many in the industry to believe a series of fatal and other serious accidents in recent years was “just part of fishing”.

A young deckhand died at sea this season after being bitten by a sea snake and a coronial inquest last year into the electrocution of a man five years ago on a Gulf trawler found the company involved failed to provide a safe workplace.

Mr Raptis said unless attitudes changed, unnecessary deaths and serious injuries would continue to happen.

Safety issues such as fatigue management were complex and difficult but that was no excuse for the industry not to deal with it, he said.

“There are only 52 boats left in the fishery so there’s only a handful of operators.

“We’re all very, very close and often we know the staff on all the other vessels, not just our own, and it hurts … it really does affect all of us when we see people being killed or getting hurt.”