The Port of Aberdeen is urging members of the public to keep away from restricted areas of the port.
After a 130% increase in incidents, the authority is reminding people that trespassing can lead to “tragic consequences”.
Trespassers have been found ‘tombstoning’, fishing, swimming and taking photos – with one person even bringing a set of ladders to gain access.
The safety drive comes during national Maritime Safety Week as the port authority seeks to educate members of the public on the hazards within the port.
In 2021 there were 14 incidents of unauthorised access to the port’s estate. This was more than a 130% rise from incidents recorded pre-pandemic in 2019.
The majority of incidents take place between May and August.
Just having a laugh
A third of all incidents involved trespassing on the port’s breakwaters, which are the gateway to the port’s busy shipping channel.
Alex McIntosh, harbour master, said: “The Port of Aberdeen emergency responders respond to each breach of the port security as soon as we are alerted to them.
“We hear all sorts of reasons for the breaches – they were taking photographs, wanted to go fishing, fancied a swim or were just having a laugh.
“Some have even turned up with ladders to climb over the fence.”
She continued: “The public do not always appreciate the risk to themselves and the Port of Aberdeen employees who respond to remove them from our breakwaters and quaysides.
“Also, they’re not always aware that these breaches are also breaching port security legislation.”
Throughout the pandemic the port saw an increase in the popularity of watersports – including wild swimming, surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding – which it said had increased the potential danger to the public.
Mrs McIntosh said: “It is encouraging to see more people enjoy the coastline through different outdoor activities.
“However, the port has a responsibility to reduce the risk to the public through engagement and education.
“The navigation channels and port approaches can be busy with commercial and leisure traffic entering and exiting the port.
“The vessels navigating in the approaches may not be aware of the presence, particularly of SUP or wild swimmers, as they are not visible in the water.”
She said: “Leisure users are encouraged to remain within the areas bounded by the five-metre contour line on the navigation chart to the north of the north breakwater.”
The post authority asked people to become familiar with Emily’s Code, which aims to prevent accidents at sea by highlighting key safety messages.
Sarah West, interim chief operating officer, Port of Aberdeen said: “Port of Aberdeen is one of the busiest ports in the country and with that comes many hazards, especially to untrained members of the public.
“That’s why it’s vital that the public play their part by adhering to maritime rules, safety signage and keeping out of restricted areas of the port estate.”
Since 2020, the port has invested more than £300,000 in anti-intruder technology.
This has included the installation of cameras and barriers at common user quays, and enhanced signs at the south breakwater.
Bill Deans, founder, Aberdeen Water Safety Group, said: “Aberdeen Water Safety Group are happy to work along with Port of Aberdeen in the promotion of water safety in and around the Port and beach areas of Aberdeen.”
If members of the public spot suspicious activity or individuals accessing restricted areas of the port, they should call 01224 597000 and a specialised team will assess and respond.