There’s been some confusion today (Wednesday 13 October) over social media pages for HM Coastguard locally and for island Coastguard Rescue Teams (CRT).
Facebook pages for Stornoway CRT, Lochboisdale CRT and Benbecula CRT have today posted messages announcing an end to incident reports, while the ‘official’ regional page for HM Coastguard’s Western Isles, Skye and Lochaber district has disappeared altogether.
The teams hint at a decision taken higher up the organisation, as final posts apologise to followers for the suspension of their updates.
Benbecula CRT said: “It is with great sadness we announce this social media page will no longer offer incident information.
“It has been a pleasure offering this service to our many followers far and wide. We would like to thank you all for your support and kindness over many years.
“HM Coastguard Benbecula is very active and it remains our pleasure and privilege to continue to serve and support our community as we always have.”
There’s a similar tone in the message reproduced on both the Stornoway and Lochboisdale CRT pages, which reads: “Unfortunately this page is no longer active. We would like to take the opportunity to thank our many followers and those in the wider community for your support, kind words and kind gestures over the years.
“It’s only the Facebook page that’s going and the team remain very much active and we will continue to serve the community as we always have.”
All the teams recommend following the official Maritime Coastguard Agency Facebook feed at https://www.facebook.com/MCA, where safety advice and featured reports on incidents nationally are posted.
But followers of local teams have responded with puzzlement and regret, having been used to specifically local reports, photographs of local incidents and information related to island conditions.
One said: “That’s a shame. No more local knowledge, incidents or good work to report locally – it will be hard to report that from Southampton!”
And another asked: “Will you be keeping in touch with the community in other ways? I’m sure there are times that it’s useful for everyone to know what is going on.
“We appreciate your work and value getting information from you. This page will be missed by many.”
A Maritime Coastguard Agency spokesperson said today: “We've been using social media for many years now and there's currently a review of how we can continue to do that and how best we can use it.
“It is not our intention to lose any opportunities for social media safety messages or engagement – HM Coastguard just wants to make sure that we're using everything to its best advantage for that reason.
“Each area is looking how best it can use social media.”
Pictures show Facebook images from Stornoway Coastguard Rescue Team, helping with the refloating of a grounded fishing vessel off Holm (Stornoway CRT)
and Benbecula CRT with Army Bomb Disposal team members guarding unexploded ordnance (HM Coastguard Benbecula).