MAIB releases report on fatal, single-handed ‘high risk’ fisherman

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has released the findings of its investigation into a fatal incident when a skipper went overboard off the coast of Scotland.

There were no witnesses to the accident, according to the report. The skipper was shooting creels on 2 May 2021, 1.2 miles east of Torness Point, Scotland in a single-handed creel fishing vessel.

MAIB says that Saint Peter’s working deck arrangement made it difficult for the skipper to work safely separated from the fishing gear while shooting creels.

It believes it is likely that one of the skipper’s legs became entangled in rope while attempting to unsnag a string of creels, causing him to subsequently get pulled overboard.

The skipper was wearing a personal flotation device (PFD), which fully inflated and kept him afloat, however once in the water he was unable to raise an alarm or reboard his vessel.

A concerned relative and a friend of the skipper searched for, and found, Saint Peter unmanned. It had a string of creels steaming from its shooting door.

They contacted the coastguard, and the search and rescue operation located Saint Peter’s skipper, who was unresponsive when recovered from the water. A short while later, he was declared deceased.

MAIB warns that single-handed fishing is ‘high-risk’. Those fishing are advised to rig a man overboard ladder and wear a personal locator beacon to improve their chances of reboarding the vessel and sending a distress signal.

In addition to this, MAIB says well-prepared risk assessments and realistic safety procedures could protect single-handed fishers from potential dangers at sea.

Given the existing guidance on the risks of single-handed fishing operations and MAIB’s safety recommendations made in previous recent investigation reports, no further recommendations regarding single-handed fishing have been made.

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