Fishermen should adhere more strictly to safety measures at sea to help prevent a repeat of this year’s Beryl fishing boat tragedy in which a crewman died.
A report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch has accompanied a safety flyer which is being dispatched to representatives of the fishing industry.
It comes after an incident on 10th February when the Beryl’s leading deckhand, Joshua Aryeetey, was carried overboard by the Banff-registered vessel’s port trawl net in rough seas 21 miles northwest of the isles.
The net was being shot away through the stern’s so-called shooting doors when it snagged.
To free the net, the deckhand stood on the net after spotting a float that was caught on lashings inside the net track.
But the net released suddenly and streamed astern, carrying Mr Aryeetey with it. The deckhand was taken through the port shooting door and into the sea.
Beryl’s crew tried unsuccessfully for 50 minutes to recover their colleague. He was eventually recovered by a rescue craft launched by the offshore support vessel Caledonian Victory.
He was transferred to the Stornoway-based coastguard rescue helicopter, which was out at the time and nearest to the incident, and flown to hospital but later died.
The MAIB’s investigation found Beryl’s crew had previously discussed the hazard of jammed and tangled equipment with a representative from the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation. A safety measure, that the crew must stand back until the skipper assesses the situation and gives instructions, was agreed at the time.
Now, the MAIB, has warned fishermen that risk assessments do not reduce the risk of accidents unless the control measures and safety precautions that they help to identify are implemented.
It recommends that the coastguard agency and fishermen’s federation, as well as the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations and the Sea Fish Industry Authority, should collectively explore ways of:
• Ensuring fishermen conduct regular emergency drills as required by law;
• Procuring rescue dummies which could be made available to carry out realistic drills;
• Using the results of onboard risk assessments to promote behavioural change and develop “robust safety cultures”.
It also recommends the Maritime Coastguard Agency strengthens its policy on “man overboard drills” on fishing vessels.
Meanwhile, the Seafish Industry Authority is recommended to carry out research into man overboard recovery systems suitable for use on board fishing vessels and make available advice to the fishing industry on their suitability and limitations.
Finally, vessel owners JCJM Ltd are being urged to ensure its crews are “fully prepared” to deal with emergencies.
• See this week’s Shetland Times for the full story.