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The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has initiated an inquiry into a recent incident on the river Corrib where up to ten people were rescued after their rowing craft were swept towards the Galway city salmon weir.

The incident was one of two which occurred on the river on January 14th when the river was in full flow and three rowing boats attached to the University of Galway and to Coláiste Iognáid secondary school capsized.

No one was injured, but Labour councillor and chairman of Claddagh Watch river safety group Niall McNelis said the situation involving the university students who were caught on the top of the weir was potentially very serious.

The sport of rowing is exempt from mandatory lifejacket use.

The MCIB confirmed early this week that it decided to carry out an investigation into this incident.

“A full report will be published in due course”, an MCIB spokeswoman confirmed, adding that the board “will not be making any further comment”.

As Afloat reported earlier, both incidents occurred between 11 am and 12 noon on January 14th, with the first being the capsize of an octuple or “eight” rowing craft with students from Coláiste Iognáid or “ Jez” secondary school.

The capsize occurred up river from the weir and across from their clubhouse. All students were rescued by their club safety launches within minutes and taken ashore.

A more serious incident occurred shortly after that when two rowing craft with University of Galway students were swept towards the salmon weir, where they were caught by pontoons and capsized due to the strength of the river flow.

Ten rowers - none of whom are obliged to wear lifejackets due to the sport’s exemption - had to be taken from the top of the weir by club safety launches in very challenging conditions.

The Irish Coast Guard confirmed that its Valentia Rescue Coordination Centre was alerted through the national 112/999 call answering service at 12:08hrs on January 14. It said it was reported that ten rowers were “possibly in difficulty at the weir”.

The Galway Fire Service, An Garda Siochana, Coast Guard Helicopter R118 from Sligo, Galway RNLIlLifeboat and Costelloe Bay Coast Guard unit were tasked, it said.

“During the 112/999 call the caller confirmed all boat occupants had been recovered to the club safety boats responding locally,”the Irish Coast Guard said, and rescue units were stood down.

The University of Galway is compiling an internal report. It said support boats were on the water at the time the two boats capsized and no-one was injured.

“ All rowers were brought safely from the water to the river bank within minutes,” a spokesman said.

“The university is deeply grateful to other rowing clubs for their support and prompt response. We also thank the emergency services for their rapid response,”he said.

He confirmed the university has engaged with Rowing Ireland, the national representative body, and is reviewing all safety measures and precautions which are in place for our rowing club and other river users”.

It said it would cooperate fully with any MCIB inquiry, and would support any initiatives to improve water safety and rescue services on the Corrib.

A spokesman for Coláiste Iognáid said that it was satisfied that all safety procedures were followed when its boat capsized, and said all students were fine and parents were informed.

Speaking on behalf of the Galway water users’ multi-agency group, RNLI Galway operations manager Mike Swan said that a dedicated rescue craft above the weir which was on call “24/7” was essential.

Corrib Rowing and Yachting Club said it supported calls for a dedicated rescue boat, as the nearest service up river is the Corrib-Mask Rescue Service in Lisloughrey, Co Mayo.

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A fuel leak is believed to have caused a fire on board a passenger ferry linking Ballyhack, Co Wexford with Passage East in Waterford, last year.

A Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report says the crew of the Frazer Tintern reacted immediately after the master of the vessel detected a strong smell of diesel fuel while en route to Passage East in early August 2021.

A crew member had also called the master to say he could also detect a strong smell of the fuel and was going to investigate. The incident occurred at around 18.05 hours on August 5th, 2021.

The MCIB report says that when the crew member got to the mesh door at the number one (No.1) engine compartment, he was met with black smoke and flames.

“The crewmember notified the master straight away that they had a fire onboard. The master immediately shut down the No.1 engine and turned off the engine room fans,” it says.

“Two crewmembers then activated two portable fire extinguishers and rigged fire hoses to provide boundary cooling,”it says.

The vessel continued to the Passage East slipway to get passengers off as quickly and safely as possible, it says, although the fire was brought under control.

It says that on arrival, all passengers and vehicles were “disembarked in a safe manner”.

“The vessel was then secured, and the remaining engines shut down. When the smoke dispersed fully, the crew investigated the engine room to confirm the fire had been extinguished,”it says.

The two-deck crewmembers used portable fire extinguishers, the fire was knocked back, and fire hoses were run out to provide boundary cooling while the master continued to navigate the vessel towards Passage East slipway, it says.

The report says that the machinery space fire suppression system was not operated. The vessel was moored up, and the remaining engines were shut down.

“The three crewmembers then carried out a visual inspection of the engine compartment after the remaining smoke had dispersed and confirmed that the fire was fully extinguished,” it says.

The MCIB report says the fire was “most likely caused by a return line fuel leak on No.1 main engine providing fuel to the area”.

It says that the volume and pressure of the fuel was greatly increased by the fuel return line being blocked or shut off, while the ambient high temperature and swirling airflow in the vicinity assisted in the atomisation of the fuel.

It says the fuel may have been ignited by arcing of the No.1 main engine alternator, but it was more likely to have been from fuel spraying onto hot surfaces such as the engine exhaust manifold or turbocharger casing.

It says that shutting down the engine removed the source of fuel from the fire and would have had a far greater effect in extinguishing it than the use of portable extinguishers.

It says that due to the extent of the fire and subsequent damage to No.1 engine, “the exact location and cause of the fuel leak has been impossible to determine”.

It recommends that the owners/operators should ensure that all return line flexible fuel hoses are fixed as per the engine manufacturer’s recommendations.

It also says the owners/operators should arrange to have the airflow from the machinery space ducted away from the main car deck and clear of any public areas. This is to ensure that a fire in the machinery space will not impinge on public areas.

It says the owners/operators should arrange to have the shut-off valves removed from the fuel system return lines to prevent the potential of over-pressurisation of the system. It also recommends that they need to ensure that the firefighting procedures and domestic safety management systems put in place post the incident are “followed and practiced and logged regularly”.

The MCIB reports recommends that the Minister for Transport should issue a marine notice to owners/masters of passenger vessels to remind them that “in the case of a fire or other potentially serious incident a distress/Pan Pan call as appropriate should be made at the earliest opportunity”.

It also says the minister should request a review of manning and crew qualification requirements for Class IV passenger vessels operating in restricted waters as per action 25 of the Maritime Safety Strategy of 2015.

It notes that the owners initiated an internal enquiry into the incident immediately before any repairs were undertaken.

“ This enquiry yielded some useful information on the history of the event”, the MCIB says, but it "did not clearly identify the root cause of the fire".

It says it did lead to the operators adopting a safety management system to improve processes onboard.

It says that since the incident, the door leading to No.1 engine compartment on the ferry was fitted with a weight and magnetic lock so that it closes automatically when the fire alarm is activated.

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The board of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) says it welcomes the publication of the General Scheme of Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Accidents) Bill 2022 and the Government’s decision to establish a new independent Marine Accident Investigation Unit (MAIU) within the Department of Transport.

“The board believes that the new proposed structure and the potential for greater synergy with other investigation units within the department’s remit will enhance future investigations of marine casualties and thereby contribute to greater marine safety,” it said in a statement on Tuesday (13 December).

Restrictions on the membership of the board which arose following a European Court of Justice decision in 2020 were resolved by the Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Accidents) Act 2022, the board adds.

In February this year, the board completed a recruitment drive for additional investigators to the investigator panel “which comprises independent persons with a high level of technical expertise”.

In September, this was followed by a recruitment process for a full-time expert marine consultant for the MCIB, which is ongoing.

The board says this is in line with recommendations in the review of the organisational structures underpinning marine accident investigations commissioned by the Department of Transport.

It adds that it has “assured the minister and the department of its full support and cooperation to ensure continuity for ongoing and new investigations and to enable a smooth transition of the function of investigating marine casualties from the board to the new unit which will be established by the current bill.”

This story was updated on Wednesday 14 December with a link to the bill.

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The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has said all ship crew and vessel operators need to be reminded of the potential dangers of working at height following its inquiry into a fall from an Irish cargo ship.

A 29-year-old Polish national working as a second officer with Arklow Shipping was seriously injured after he fell from the Arklow Clan, an 87.4 metre-long general cargo ship, while it was berthed in Aberdeen, Scotland.

The incident occurred at around 17.49 hours on August 11th 2021, while the ship, in ballast condition, was due to unload a cargo of scrap metal the following morning.

Three crewmembers had begun lowering the walkway handrails in preparation for loading operations.

Whilst lowering the handrails, the second officer lost his footing, falling around 3.6 metres (m) from the walkway to the quay below.

As a result of the impact, he sustained serious injuries to both his legs, necessitating an extensive period of hospitalisation, multiple surgeries, and rehabilitation. The man had two years of service with Arklow Shipping, and it was his second contract onboard the Arklow Clan.

Investigations into the cause of the incident were undertaken by Arklow Shipping, the vessel’s crew and Port of Aberdeen staff.

Britain’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) and the MCIB were both notified by the master/ship Operator, with the MCIB subsequently investigating the incident.

The MCIB report says that working at height remains one of the biggest causes of fatalities and major injuries onboard vessels.

“ All the major P&I clubs (vessel insurers) have issued loss prevention circulars identifying the dangers of working at height both above and below deck,”it says.

“ A failure to adequately identify work hazards, poor planning and supervision remain contributory factors in the majority of working at height incidents,”it says.

It notes that onboard the Arklow Clan, it was “common practice not to wear harnesses when dropping the railings”.

“This culture and compliancy does not appear to be limited to the vessel, as an incident regarding lowered walkway handrails also occurred onboard the Arklow Vanguard, it says.

It says the lack of safety wires onboard 16 other vessels in the Arklow fleet was “persuasive evidence that the risks associated with handrail lowering operation were not appreciated by the crews or the vessel operator. In other words, the lack of a wire was not reported or deemed to constitute a hazard”.

The MCIB report says that Arklow Shipping identified the cause and rectified it quickly. It distributed a fleet circular letter on August 31st, 2021, advising all crew of the incidents at Manchester and Aberdeen with the walkway handrails.

“ The circular acknowledged the inadequacies of the procedures for lowering the handrails and set out new requirements,”it says.

The owner of the vessel, Arklow Shipping ULC, has said it accepts the report’s findings in a submission sent to the MCIB.

The MCIB says that the Minister for Transport should issue a marine notice to remind all crews and vessel operators of the potential dangers of working at height and their obligations to follow existing legislation and guidance in order to reduce any risks.

“This includes ensuring the task is risk assessed, subject to a permit to work, that crew are provided with a “toolbox talk” prior to commencing the task and the appropriate personal protection equipment( PPE) is available,” it says.

“ Crew must be provided with training in the correct use of PPE, and the PPE must be subject to regular inspections and recorded in a planned maintenance system, as per International Safety Management (ISM) Code (applicable to passenger ships and cargo vessels over 500 gross tonnes),” the report says.

The report is here

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The quick action of a crew member on a Donegal fishing vessel probably saved the life of his skipper when his arm was trapped by a trawl door, an investigation has found.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report into the incident involving the whitefish trawler FV Marliona has noted that the trawl door was not secured adequately and that it was in the wrong position.

This made it prone to movement from side to side. At the time of the incident, the vessel was taking a slight roll, adding to this movement, the MCIB report notes. These factors, along with fatigue, were probable causes.

The incident occurred on the afternoon of February 3rd, 2021, when the Marliona was alongside Greencastle harbour, Co Donegal.

During a repair procedure, the skipper’s left arm became trapped by a trawl door, causing severe damage to his arm.

First aid was administered by another crewmember and the bleeding was stopped. The skipper was transferred by ambulance to hospital for his injuries, and his arm was saved. He was released the same day, but continued to receive treatment and only returned to work in May 2021.

The “FV Marliona” is a white fish trawler that mainly fishes to the west and north of Donegal.

On February 3rd, 2021 the vessel had been fishing off the west coast of Donegal and had returned to the port of Greencastle, Co Donegal to unload its catch and repair its fishing gear. Its registered owner is Marliona Fishing Ltd.

In its analysis, the report noted that during the repairs, the trawl door was lower than normal, and so the skipper had to reach down lower to grab the chain-link.

It said “the absence of a risk assessment for this operation and the incorrect positioning of the trawl door were causative factors”, and the unstable trawl door and the vessel’s roll trapped the skipper’s arm.

It said that the casualty was “in serious risk of bleeding out in a short time, but due to the quick action of crewmember B he got critical attention that probably saved his life”

The crew member had recently completed a three day first aid course which was a “major factor”, the MCIB report said.

The report concluded that the operation should have been done on the quay wall, i.e., the door should have been landed onto the quay and the chain-link removed there.

It said that time sheets were inspected for the vessel, and inconsistencies were noted, but the MCIB “can make no finding about compliance or non-compliance with the regulations as that is within the jurisdiction of the Marine Survey Office.

“ Irrespective of whether there was or was not compliance with the regulations, it cannot be discounted that fatigue may have been a contributory human factor, it said.

“It is likely that another human factor was that of time pressure to effect the repairs during a limited time in port before the next fishing trip,”it said

The report made eight recommendations, including recommending that the Minister for Transport should issue a marine notice reminding fishing vessel owners and operators of the great importance of safety and risk assessments, and that these assessments and methodology are communicated fully and should involve interpreters if required.

Recommendations also included calling on the Minister for Transport to review existing health and safety training of fishers in light of this report.

It said the Minister for Transport should ensure that the Marine Survey Office has the capacity for the audit of working time to ensure compliance with relevant regulations, and to ensure adherence to the requirements in S.I. No. 591/2021 EU (Minimum Safety and Health Requirements for Improved Medical Treatment on Board Vessels) Regulations 2021.

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The MCIB was established in 2002 under the Merchant shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) Act 2000. The purpose of the MCIB is to investigate marine casualties with a view to learning lessons to prevent them happening again.

It is not the purpose of an investigation to attribute fault or blame. The MCIB invites applications from suitably qualified marine consultants to enhance the technical skills within the MCIB Secretariat, support investigations and investigators, and provide technical advice to the Board as required.

To date, the MCIB has published approximately 254 accident investigation reports through independent investigators appointed by the MCIB to carry out accident investigations on its behalf and to develop reports for the MCIB.

MCIB

Investigators are appointed from a panel and have a variety of highly technical maritime qualifications and skills. You will require the ability to communicate at all levels, from providing expert advice to the Board through to working with investigators and engaging in cooperative activity with the European Union wide network of maritime investigation units, and with other bodies interested in marine safety.

Details about the MCIB, its annual reports and its investigation reports can be accessed at www.mcib.ie.

As an Expert Marine Consultant to the Board, you will be required to:

  • Provide expert technical advice to the Board on a broad range of diverse Marine Casualties.
  • Co-ordinate a panel of investigators ensuring that marine casualties are investigated in accordance with the relevant legislation including the Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) Act 2000, the IMO code, EU Directive 2009/18/EC and S.I. 276 of 2011 – European Communities (Merchant Shipping) (Investigation of Accidents) Regulations 2011 and the EU Common Methodology.
  • Monitor and ensure that all incident investigations are conducted thoroughly and effectively and that they meet the requirements and expectations of the Board and are in accordance with national and international regulations, including providing guidance to the Board on the direction for the conduct of investigations.
  • Act as investigator under warrant from time to time as appointed by the Board.
  • Carry out other investigator type functions as may be determined by the MCIB from time to time including acting as a support or providing assistance to the investigator appointed under warrant, and/or co-operating on another investigation or report.
  • Liaise with the Board and the Secretariat regarding investigation progress and presentation of reports in the required format.
  • Take part in activities arising from the MCIB’s membership of the European Union's European Maritime Safety Agency (“EMSA”). This will include taking part in EMSA training and also any audits or assessments carried out by the EU/EMSA or IMO as required.
  • Take part in MCIB training and in general activities arising from the MCIB’s own audit or governance activities.
  • Contribute to the work of the MCIB in engagement with other entities interested in marine safety and other entities.
  • Any other duties and responsibilities deemed necessary by the Board.

For more information, and to apply, see www.etenders.gov.ie and search ID number 220892 or click this link here

The closing date for applications is Tuesday 20th September at 16.00 hrs.

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The Chairperson of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board has warned that regulation may well be required for watersports in the leisure marine sector if voluntary standards set by accredited bodies are not adhered to.

That serious warning is contained in the annual report of the Board for last year, which recounts that in its report for 2020, “we strongly encouraged all organisations (especially clubs and commercial entities) associated with watersports and water recreational activities to audit their safety systems and to have regard to all guidelines or recommendations issued by any governing sports bodies.”

Chairperson Claire Callanan says: “It is disappointing to note that in 2021 the MCIB continued to be advised of situations where little or no regard was paid to governing body safety guidelines.”

"little or no regard was paid to governing body safety guidelines"

She says: “A number of recommendations were made in relation to the kayaking/canoeing sector, including ones related to commercial users. These included a recommendation that consideration should be given to the establishment of a directory of commercial providers of coastal sea and river paddle facilities and that consideration should be given to how best to enhance safety standards within the commercial paddle sport provider sector and whether a mandatory registration or licencing scheme, which would provide for the registration of instructors and their qualifications should be introduced.

“We have observed a continuing increase in the number of very serious incidents involving kayakers/canoeists some of which could very easily have led to fatalities.

“Regulation may well be required, especially in the commercial sector, if voluntary standards set by accredited bodies are not adhered to.”

The MCIB report also says that the Board has seen an increase in “incidents involving fishing vessels of all sizes.

“This has also been the assessment of our European Union (EU) partners and is feeding into the draft of a new EU Directive.” 

As a result of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) decision in July 2020 (which held that Ireland had not correctly implemented Article 8.1 of Directive 2009/18/EC) the Board of the MCIB has had to operate with only three members. The Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) (Amendment) Bill 2021 was presented to the Dáil on 11 November 2021 and passed its final stages in the Seanad on 5 May 2022. The Act will facilitate an increased composition of the Board based on a minimum of five and a maximum of seven members appointed by the Minister, along with other necessary operational and technical revisions to support the ongoing functioning of the Board.

The Chairperson comments in her annual statement: “The Board looks forward to the appointment of additional Board members at the earliest opportunity.”

Published in MCIB

In response to recommendations in the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report into the fatal incident involving the FV Myia in Galway Bay in November 2020, as previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Department of Transport is stressing the importance of navigation planning.

The necessity of ensuring all navigation is planned in detail from berth to berth, with contingency plans in place, applies to all concerned in the fishing industry.

Owners and relevant crew members need to familiarise themselves with their vessel, including its anchoring arrangements and any limitations of the anchoring equipment.

Owners and masters are also reminded that an efficient navigational watch shall be maintained throughout the voyage in line with the Basic Principles to be observed in keeping a Navigational Watch on Board Fishing Vessels as set out IMO Resolution A.484 (XII). Situational awareness with regard to navigation shall be maintained at all times.

All voyages must be planned using the most up to date nautical publications and approved admiralty charts and/or ECDIS. It is essential to carry out regular weather forecast checks during coastal, offshore and ocean voyages.

Shipowners, masters, skippers and fishers should particularly consider the following points when planning on going to sea:

  • Weather: Prior to proceeding to sea, weather forecasts shall be assessed and the means to obtain available weather forecast updates shall be ensured. The prevailing weather shall be monitored at all times. Where weather conditions are deteriorating and the safety of the vessel or crew is in question, operators should seek shelter or return to port.
  • Tides: The state of the tide and current should be determined for the planned voyage, task or activity. Masters and skippers shall ensure that the vessel or craft can be safely operated in the states of expected tide or current.
  • Limitations of the vessel: Ensure the vessel is suitable for the planned voyage, task or activity, that all systems are available and in good operational condition, including all appropriate safety systems and equipment which shall, at all times, be ready for immediate use.
  • Crew: Take into account the experience and physical ability of the crew. Crews suffering from cold, tiredness and seasickness won’t be able to do their job properly and this could result in an overburdened skipper. Prior to proceeding to sea, crew members should be well rested, fit and physically capable for any task that they may be required to perform whilst onboard. Masters and skippers should be aware of dangers of, and be able to recognise, fatigue and its impact on the safety of the vessel or craft.
  • Communications: VHF radio should be available onboard which is capable of operating on marine band Channel 16 to raise a distress and/or seek assistance. Skippers should not rely on mobile phones as signal availability can be reduced or lost due to range from shore and environmental conditions. Skippers should, prior to departure, advise the port authority or a designated person ashore of planned area of operation and expected time of return.
Published in Fishing

Dun Laoghaire senator Victor Boyhan has called for a more transparent and accountable Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB).

He has also called for a new mechanism to appoint members to the MCIB board.

Speaking during a debate on the Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) Bill in Seanad Eireann earlier this week, Senator Boyhan recalled the EU Court of Justice ruling issued last year.

The ruling stated that Ireland has failed to provide for a maritime accident investigation body that was "independent in its organisation and decision-making of any party whose interests could conflict with the task".

Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB)

It was issued after a case was taken to Europe by maritime lawyer Michael Kingston.

Boyhan, a former director of the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company and a member of the Oireachtas Committee on Marine matters, called for “ a robust and properly resourced marine casualty body which has capacity, funds, resources, and organisation structures in place”.

He said that a full-time professional unit was required, and the public needed to have confidence in its work.

Boyhan also called on Minister of State for Transport Hildegarde Naughton to publish the Lacey and Clinch reports on the handling of maritime investigations.

He recalled that the Lacey report was undertaken by Ms Róisín Lacey SC, and was delivered on to the Department of Transport on August 25th, 2010, but remained unpublished.

The report, commissioned by the then Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey, recommended establishing a national accident investigation office which was “independent in every way” from the Department of Transport, encompassing aviation, rail and marine, Boyhan said.

The Lacey report identified that it had to be done to comply with an EU directive that was being transposed into Irish law, he said.

“The Minister of State will be very familiar with this as I have seen her engagement on this legislation,” he continued.

The Clinch report was conducted by Captain Steve Clinch of the British-based company, Clinchmaritime Ltd, he said.

“The report was commissioned by the Department of Transport to carry out an independent review of the organisational structures of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board, MCIB,” he said.

“The key objective of the review was to assess the current organisational structures for marine casualty investigation and to set out in a report any recommendations to achieve the most appropriate and effective marine casualty investigation structures for Ireland, taking into account national, EU and international law and obligations,” he said.

Boyhan said the Clinch report was delivered to the Department of Transport in 2021.

The Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) Bill will be back in the Seanad for Report and Final Stage next week.

Published in MCIB

An unattended electronic device, possibly a mobile phone on charge, may have ignited a fire on a west Cork fishing vessel which sank last year.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report into the sinking of the fishing vessel Horizon 20 nautical miles off the Old Head of Kinsale, Co Cork, on May 14th, 2021.

The skipper broadcast a “Mayday” on VHF and the four crew on board were recovered from their liferaft by the offshore supply ship, Pathfinder (italics).

Despite efforts to fight the fire by a responding offshore supply ship, Maersk Maker, the fishing vessel sank at approximately 07.00 hrs, close to the position where it initially caught fire.

The MCIB report said there was some sea surface oil pollution reported which appears to have dissipated naturally.

Weather and sea conditions at the time were good with light winds and a moderate sea. The crew, who were not injured, were subsequently transferred to the RNLI Courtmacsherry lifeboat and brought ashore.

The MCIB report found the vessel was materially fit for purpose and in a stable condition immediately prior to the incident, and its condition was not a factor in the fire and sinking.

It says while the cause of the outbreak of the fire is “not known with any certainty”, it is “ reasonably deduced” that an unattended mobile phone or other similar electronic device which was being charged and/or an electronic device battery charger into a 240V AC circuit in the crew accommodation cabin may have been the source.

It says a time delay in fighting the fire caused by the failure of the smoke detector alarm on board allowed the blaze to take hold and spread before being spotted by the skipper when he returned to the wheelhouse.

It says that exposure of the flexible plastic hose components of the vessel’s machinery cooling systems to the fire in the engine room - allowing them to melt and lose their watertight integrity – allowed seawater in and the vessel sank.

The report says that had the fire detection system onboard the fishing vessel been “more in-line with the more stringent requirements of the International FSS Code which requires the fire detection system to include both audible and visual fault signals, the fire in the accommodation cabin would likely have been detected earlier”.

However, only audible smoke detector alarms were fitted as the Horizon was deemed an “existing vessel” in 2007 when a relevant statutory instrument on fire detection was promulgated.

The report says that two of the vessel’s crew did not have the required BIM safety training courses completed.

The report recommends that the Minister for Transport should prepare and issue a marine notice reminding owners, skippers, officers and crew members of fishing vessels of the requirement to have basic safety training in accordance with statutory instrument 587 of 2001.

A marine notice should also be issued ensuring that fire detection systems and alarms are regularly tested and maintained in an operational condition, it says.

This includes “guidance on the inspection and testing of fire detection systems onboard fishing vessels of 15–24 metres in length”.

The report also recommends Minister for Transport should amend the Irish Maritime Directorate Strategy 2021 – 2025 policy document in relation to specified aspects of maritime safety.

Published in MCIB
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Irish Fishing industry 

The Irish Commercial Fishing Industry employs around 11,000 people in fishing, processing and ancillary services such as sales and marketing. The industry is worth about €1.22 billion annually to the Irish economy. Irish fisheries products are exported all over the world as far as Africa, Japan and China.

FAQs

Over 16,000 people are employed directly or indirectly around the coast, working on over 2,000 registered fishing vessels, in over 160 seafood processing businesses and in 278 aquaculture production units, according to the State's sea fisheries development body Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

All activities that are concerned with growing, catching, processing or transporting fish are part of the commercial fishing industry, the development of which is overseen by BIM. Recreational fishing, as in angling at sea or inland, is the responsibility of Inland Fisheries Ireland.

The Irish fishing industry is valued at 1.22 billion euro in gross domestic product (GDP), according to 2019 figures issued by BIM. Only 179 of Ireland's 2,000 vessels are over 18 metres in length. Where does Irish commercially caught fish come from? Irish fish and shellfish is caught or cultivated within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ), but Irish fishing grounds are part of the common EU "blue" pond. Commercial fishing is regulated under the terms of the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983 and with ten-yearly reviews.

The total value of seafood landed into Irish ports was 424 million euro in 2019, according to BIM. High value landings identified in 2019 were haddock, hake, monkfish and megrim. Irish vessels also land into foreign ports, while non-Irish vessels land into Irish ports, principally Castletownbere, Co Cork, and Killybegs, Co Donegal.

There are a number of different methods for catching fish, with technological advances meaning skippers have detailed real time information at their disposal. Fisheries are classified as inshore, midwater, pelagic or deep water. Inshore targets species close to shore and in depths of up to 200 metres, and may include trawling and gillnetting and long-lining. Trawling is regarded as "active", while "passive" or less environmentally harmful fishing methods include use of gill nets, long lines, traps and pots. Pelagic fisheries focus on species which swim close to the surface and up to depths of 200 metres, including migratory mackerel, and tuna, and methods for catching include pair trawling, purse seining, trolling and longlining. Midwater fisheries target species at depths of around 200 metres, using trawling, longlining and jigging. Deepwater fisheries mainly use trawling for species which are found at depths of over 600 metres.

There are several segments for different catching methods in the registered Irish fleet – the largest segment being polyvalent or multi-purpose vessels using several types of gear which may be active and passive. The polyvalent segment ranges from small inshore vessels engaged in netting and potting to medium and larger vessels targeting whitefish, pelagic (herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting) species and bivalve molluscs. The refrigerated seawater (RSW) pelagic segment is engaged mainly in fishing for herring, mackerel, horse mackerel and blue whiting only. The beam trawling segment focuses on flatfish such as sole and plaice. The aquaculture segment is exclusively for managing, developing and servicing fish farming areas and can collect spat from wild mussel stocks.

The top 20 species landed by value in 2019 were mackerel (78 million euro); Dublin Bay prawn (59 million euro); horse mackerel (17 million euro); monkfish (17 million euro); brown crab (16 million euro); hake (11 million euro); blue whiting (10 million euro); megrim (10 million euro); haddock (9 million euro); tuna (7 million euro); scallop (6 million euro); whelk (5 million euro); whiting (4 million euro); sprat (3 million euro); herring (3 million euro); lobster (2 million euro); turbot (2 million euro); cod (2 million euro); boarfish (2 million euro).

Ireland has approximately 220 million acres of marine territory, rich in marine biodiversity. A marine biodiversity scheme under Ireland's operational programme, which is co-funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the Government, aims to reduce the impact of fisheries and aquaculture on the marine environment, including avoidance and reduction of unwanted catch.

EU fisheries ministers hold an annual pre-Christmas council in Brussels to decide on total allowable catches and quotas for the following year. This is based on advice from scientific bodies such as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea. In Ireland's case, the State's Marine Institute publishes an annual "stock book" which provides the most up to date stock status and scientific advice on over 60 fish stocks exploited by the Irish fleet. Total allowable catches are supplemented by various technical measures to control effort, such as the size of net mesh for various species.

The west Cork harbour of Castletownbere is Ireland's biggest whitefish port. Killybegs, Co Donegal is the most important port for pelagic (herring, mackerel, blue whiting) landings. Fish are also landed into Dingle, Co Kerry, Rossaveal, Co Galway, Howth, Co Dublin and Dunmore East, Co Waterford, Union Hall, Co Cork, Greencastle, Co Donegal, and Clogherhead, Co Louth. The busiest Northern Irish ports are Portavogie, Ardglass and Kilkeel, Co Down.

Yes, EU quotas are allocated to other fleets within the Irish EEZ, and Ireland has long been a transhipment point for fish caught by the Spanish whitefish fleet in particular. Dingle, Co Kerry has seen an increase in foreign landings, as has Castletownbere. The west Cork port recorded foreign landings of 36 million euro or 48 per cent in 2019, and has long been nicknamed the "peseta" port, due to the presence of Spanish-owned transhipment plant, Eiranova, on Dinish island.

Most fish and shellfish caught or cultivated in Irish waters is for the export market, and this was hit hard from the early stages of this year's Covid-19 pandemic. The EU, Asia and Britain are the main export markets, while the middle Eastern market is also developing and the African market has seen a fall in value and volume, according to figures for 2019 issued by BIM.

Fish was once a penitential food, eaten for religious reasons every Friday. BIM has worked hard over several decades to develop its appeal. Ireland is not like Spain – our land is too good to transform us into a nation of fish eaters, but the obvious health benefits are seeing a growth in demand. Seafood retail sales rose by one per cent in 2019 to 300 million euro. Salmon and cod remain the most popular species, while BIM reports an increase in sales of haddock, trout and the pangasius or freshwater catfish which is cultivated primarily in Vietnam and Cambodia and imported by supermarkets here.

The EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), initiated in 1983, pooled marine resources – with Ireland having some of the richest grounds and one of the largest sea areas at the time, but only receiving four per cent of allocated catch by a quota system. A system known as the "Hague Preferences" did recognise the need to safeguard the particular needs of regions where local populations are especially dependent on fisheries and related activities. The State's Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, based in Clonakilty, Co Cork, works with the Naval Service on administering the EU CFP. The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine and Department of Transport regulate licensing and training requirements, while the Marine Survey Office is responsible for the implementation of all national and international legislation in relation to safety of shipping and the prevention of pollution.

Yes, a range of certificates of competency are required for skippers and crew. Training is the remit of BIM, which runs two national fisheries colleges at Greencastle, Co Donegal and Castletownbere, Co Cork. There have been calls for the colleges to be incorporated into the third-level structure of education, with qualifications recognised as such.

Safety is always an issue, in spite of technological improvements, as fishing is a hazardous occupation and climate change is having its impact on the severity of storms at sea. Fishing skippers and crews are required to hold a number of certificates of competency, including safety and navigation, and wearing of personal flotation devices is a legal requirement. Accidents come under the remit of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board, and the Health and Safety Authority. The MCIB does not find fault or blame, but will make recommendations to the Minister for Transport to avoid a recurrence of incidents.

Fish are part of a marine ecosystem and an integral part of the marine food web. Changing climate is having a negative impact on the health of the oceans, and there have been more frequent reports of warmer water species being caught further and further north in Irish waters.

Brexit, Covid 19, EU policies and safety – Britain is a key market for Irish seafood, and 38 per cent of the Irish catch is taken from the waters around its coast. Ireland's top two species – mackerel and prawns - are 60 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively, dependent on British waters. Also, there are serious fears within the Irish industry about the impact of EU vessels, should they be expelled from British waters, opting to focus even more efforts on Ireland's rich marine resource. Covid-19 has forced closure of international seafood markets, with high value fish sold to restaurants taking a large hit. A temporary tie-up support scheme for whitefish vessels introduced for the summer of 2020 was condemned by industry organisations as "designed to fail".

Sources: Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Marine Institute, Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine, Department of Transport © Afloat 2020

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