Source: Sunday Times (UK) 
Pubdate: Sun, 05 Apr 1998
Author: Lucy Adamson


SCOTLAND faces a new drugs hazard: young trawlermen are regularly leaving
port for long fishing trips suffering withdrawal symptoms from heroin,
methadone and temazepam. They are also using narcotics at sea.

Drug workers are to publicise the problem, which has been confirmed by
trawler skippers, this week. Of the six drugs-related deaths in Grampian
since January, two were fishermen and since December 22 last year there
have been 23 near-fatal overdoses in the Fraserburgh area alone, all of
them fishermen.

Trawler skippers are often forced to return early, which loses them money,
because crewmen cannot cope with withdrawal symptoms or are under the
influence of drugs. Skippers face sleepless nights, unable to leave crewmen
on watch because they are incapable of concentrating.

Many skippers are unwilling to discuss the problem openly for fear of
retribution and because of the effect on insurance premiums for the
trawlers, which can be worth several million pounds.

Fishing trawlers will typically leave the ports for 10-day trips with a
crew of about six, ranging in age from late teens to forties. On one trip,
a fisherman will earn about 1,000, a wage which offers an affluent lifestyle.

One skipper pointed to several boats which he claimed had been grounded
because incidents at sea had forced crews back to shore. "The boys are a
risk to themselves and to everyone else," he said. "They never sleep, or
they're in another world. It's a dangerous job and in five seconds you
could be washed overboard. Normally everyone would get in and help, but now
it's everyone for themselves."

Janice Jess, co-ordinator of Grampian Addiction Problem Service (GAPS),
said recent figures were "horrendous" and lives would be lost unless the
situation improved. In GAPS's annual report, to be released tomorrow,
concerns are raised about giving methadone to men who go to sea or work in
the oil industry.