Safety flyer to the fishing industry released by MAIB

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has released its report on its investigations into Sea Mist and the untimely death of its skipper in March 2019.

The report states:

At about 12:25 on 27th March 2019, the skipper/owner of the single-handed creel boat Sea Mist, became entangled in a back rope while shooting creels and was hauled overboard. No-one witnessed the accident. However, the skipper’s son, who was nearby on his own fishing vessel, Ocean Lee, saw Sea Mist circling shortly afterwards and raised the alarm. At 13:21, Sea Mist’s skipper was recovered from the water by the crew from a Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifeboat. He was declared deceased on arrival at hospital.

Sea Mist’s skipper was working alone on deck without a personal flotation device and there were no barriers in place to separate him from his fishing gear. The investigation concluded that he drowned either because he was dragged underwater by the weight of the creels and was unable to free himself in time to reach the surface, or because he was unable to keep himself afloat after releasing his foot from his wellington boot.

MAIB has released a safety message to the fishing industry about the importance of separating crew from fishing gear and how a lifejacket could have made the difference.

Highlights include:

There was no means of separating the crew from the fishing gear on Sea Mist’s deck. It is unknown why the skipper was on deck while shooting his gear, however, the presence of a physical barrier between him and the back rope would probably have prevented this accident.

The skipper was working alone on deck without a lifejacket or personal locator beacon. Once he entered the water, he had no means of raising the alarm or remaining afloat without the need to swim. Without the buoyant support of a lifejacket, a person’s survival time after sudden immersion in cold water can be measured in minutes. In this case, like many others, a lifejacket might well have saved the skipper’s life.

The skipper had carried out some sensible safety precautions: he was carrying a knife, and knives were readily available on deck. Unfortunately, his attempt to cut himself free was not successful, but the line was almost completely severed. In slightly different circumstances, that he had ready access to a knife might have saved his life.

The full report is available online.

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