The Minister for Transport has been urged to remind fishing crews of the dangers involved in boarding vessels under the influence of alcohol, following reports issued this week of two separate fatalities in ports.
The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) found alcohol was a factor in the two unrelated incidents which occurred in Killybegs, Co Donegal in March 2019 and Rosslare, Co Wexford in May 2019.
In the Killybegs incident, a crewman from 50-metre Cork vessel MFV Menhaden died after he fell while crossing vessels in the port in the early hours of March 14th,2019.
Weather conditions were poor at the time with a lot of movement between vessels, the report says.
His vessel was in the Donegal port due to adverse weather and was one of three tied up alongside each other near the auction hall, including the Sligo-registered MFV Olgarry and Norwegian MFV Grip Transporter.
The report says there was a gangway rigged between the MFV Olgarry and the MV Grip Transporter, but there are no images on CCTV footage of this gangway being used by the casualty.
The alarm was raised after he was reported missing and a Killybegs Coast Guard team recovered his body on the shore on the east side of the harbour.
A post mortem report indicated death due to drowning at sea and the accompanying toxicology report indicated high levels of alcohol in the casualty’s system.
MFV Ellie Adhamh
In May 2019, a crewman onboard the 22-metre fishing vessel MFV Ellie Adhamh drowned after he fell between the deck and the quay wall in the early hours of the morning.
The vessel was in Rosslare Europort for a marine survey and had landed fish after its arrival on May 17th.
The MCIB says the toxicological analysis report from the post mortem confirms the casualty was under the influence of alcohol and “would have been a danger to himself and others in the port area at the time of the incident”.
“ As per the report on an incident at Killybegs on March 14th, 2019 this again highlights the dangers involved when attempting to board fishing vessels when under the influence of alcohol,” the MCIB says.
It recommends the Minister for Transport should issue a marine notice reminding fishing vessel crews of the dangers associated with boarding vessels under the influence of alcohol.
It also recommends that the minister issue a notice reminding fishing vessel owners and skippers of the duty of care to provide safe means of access to vessels while in harbour, and of the importance of wearing personal flotation devices while boarding or crossing vessels.
The MCIB also says that Rosslare Europort should “consider reviewing its operating procedures including bye-laws and security plans regarding fishing vessel operations in the port”.
“This should include movement of crewmembers within the port limits and ensuring the perimeter is secure at night and also a suitable location for the berthing of fishing vessels,” it says.