The fisherman had actually used his radio in an emergency - basically he only just had time to scream help before his boat went down - he didn't exactly bother scrolling through the list of distress type calls to find the right one.
I have said this all along on our radio courses that whilst we can look at the distress menu if you are in a small rib in a mayday situation you are unlikely to have the luxury of time to select your distress category, but pressing once and then for 5 secs will send your digital alert and switch those other radios to ch16 to hear your voice call. In fact on our icom radios (M421)we use for training it is simply one 5 sec press to send the undesignated digital distress alert. To select a category of distress on them is a completely different ball game.
We have had a couple of situations here in the last 12 months which were mayday relay situations but in neither case did I even consider scrolling thru the menu for an all ships urgency call-our coastguard MRSC is not a busy as on the south coast and they know us well. A routine call by voice got us thru fine on both occasions. Looking for the urgency call digital bit when salt water is stinging your eyes as water sweeps the length of the boat is not easy!
But had we been in a mayday situation ourselves pressing the red button would have been much more simple.
I know a few people who have taken to using their hand helds in preference to their main sets because they don't have DSC.....
I know where you are coming from here I've done it myself in one area where every half hour or so there was a securite all ship digital from one authority or another or a vessel announcing ship movement warnings or weather forecasts which were of no interest to me. Got fed up with hearing the alarm and switched to the handheld whilst switching main set off. Things are better now i think as the novelty has worn off and common sense has prevailed so that the digital bit is not overused for routine broadcasts..
The answer is to do radio courses with someone who actually uses DSC at sea in a small boat and get the benefit of their practical experience of what it is good for and what it is not helpful with in the actual realities of small boat situation in different weather conditions. Things a "theory merchant" will not understand!