#MCIB - The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has recommended that the Government review standards for activity centres involved in marine sports, following its report into an incident off Co Louth in May 2011.
Seven sixth-class pupils from St Brigid's Girls National School in Glasnevin were stranded in the water when their kayaks capsized in rough conditions near the Neptune Outdoor Centre in Clogherhead on 26 May last year.
Six of the girls were rescued by the RNLI Clogherhead lifeboat, while a seventh who had been separated from the group managed to reach the shore with some difficulty. No injuries were reported in the incident.
Among its findings, the MCIB concluded that as it had no official affiliation with either the Irish Sailing Association or the Irish Canoe Union, the Neptune Outdoor Centre - which has since ceased trading - was effectively unregulated with no monitoring of staff or operations.
It was also found that the instructor on the day had no formal qualifications in taking charge of a group of young people on the water, despite many years of experience in marine sports.
Moreover, there was no support boat available to mount a rescue attempt, a number of the pupils involved had ill-fitting buoyancy aids, and the weather conditions at the time of the incident were not conducive to taking a group of novices out on the water.
It was noted that some of the pupils involved credited a water safety course with helping them to take the right course of action when in the water, such as staying with their craft and floating with the waves on their backs.
The MCIB recommends that the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport reviews the existing arrangements for marine-based activity centres, and in particular develop standards for safety management (including weather checks, pupil-to-teacher ratio, etc), safety equipment (lifejackets, VHF radios, etc) and instructor qualifications.
The full report is available as a PDF from the MCIB website HERE.