Film by Cardiff University examines seafarers' fatigue

The link between disasters such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill and seafarers' fatigue is examined in a new film as a novel way of publicising research.

The film, to be shown at Cardiff University and online, was made by Paul Allen, who spent five years on research and wanted it to be seen widely.

It includes interviews with maritime experts calling for more regulation to avoid further disasters at sea.

Mr Allen said such findings "rarely go beyond an academic audience".

"I worked for five years on the Seafarers' Fatigue project by Cardiff University, which included going on board ship and doing research with crews," he said.

"A few years after the project finished we were talking about new ways to disseminate the research because this is a very serious issue which affects a whole world that most people know nothing about."

The 30-minute film was funded by an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Knowledge Exchange Grant, and centres on findings from Cardiff University's Professor Andy Smith.

It uses the original research findings as well as a series of interviews to give an insight into the problem many seafarers and fishermen on smaller crews face.

Image caption Mr Allen ventured on board several vessels as part of research for the film

The problem has been highlighted by the UK's Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) but Mr Allen said most accidents saw little media reporting and there was not yet the political will to introduce tighter regulations.

He said: "It's very hard to get things moving because ships move from port to port so something needs to happen on an international level."

He said accidents like the Sea Empress disaster in Pembrokeshire in 1996 captured the public imagination because of their environmental impact, but it should not take another disaster to make people take notice.

"Unless seabirds get oil on them or a passenger vessel is involved, nobody reports it.

"This is due to the fact that the industry is largely hidden from public view, despite the fact around 90% of all goods are transported by sea."

Roger Towner, registrar general of ships and seaman at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, told BBC Wales fatigue was an issue and legislation had so far failed to address it.

He said: "Seafarers have a culture of extremely long hours. I used to work on small chemical tankers where an 84-hour week was the norm, but there are a lot of people out there who will be working 100 hour weeks and not thinking anything of it.

"People don't abide by the rules and seafarers aren't logging their true hours, often out of a misguided loyalty to their ship.

"There are lots of mini-disasters all the time which are down to fatigue and have been for years- people make mistakes when they are tired. Something needs to change."

The film reveals that many seafarers are working upwards of a 70 hour week.

It will be screened on Thursday at Cardiff University in the Psychology Tower building, Park Place, Cardiff starting at 1500 BST.

The film will be made publicy available online following the launch event.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites