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The hazards of lost or discarded fishing gear has been highlighted in a Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report into the loss of a yacht off Baltimore, Co Cork, last June.

All five on board were rescued, after their yacht, named Inish Ceinn, snagged a large trawl net off the west Cork coast and was then swept onto rocks.

The 12.85 metre Sun Odyssey 42i had departed from Baltimore, Co Cork on June 6th, 2023 at 14.00 hours, for a short voyage to Cape Clear island.

It says the skipper was a well-qualified and experienced yacht master and diver, who had made this voyage on numerous occasions.

There were three other experienced persons onboard and one guest. The weather was moderate from the east and the yacht was taken out of Baltimore harbour and then headed west on the planned course towards Cape Clear.

The planned course was around 0.5 miles from the southern shore of Sherkin island and at around 14.30 hrs the skipper felt the yacht slow down rapidly and turn into the wind. Nothing could be seen in the water, so the engine was started and propeller engaged.

The report says vibration was felt and a burning smell was noticed, so the engine was shut down and the yacht was immobilised. However, wind and swell quickly pushed the yacht towards the rocks and it ran aground.

Four of the people onboard were able to get onto the rocks and the skipper sent a “Mayday “ message on the VHF radio. He then also got onto the rocks.

The report says that at this stage the skipper noticed the hull was fouled with a large trawl net. The RNLI Baltimore lifeboat came to the rescue, along with the Irish Coast Guard R115 helicopter from Shannon.

All five were evacuated from the rocks by the lifeboat and taken back to Baltimore.

The report says the yacht broke up and was lost, but there were no serious injuries and no pollution.

The report notes that the yacht had just completed a refit and was launched for trials on June 5th, 2023. These trials were completed successfully and the yacht and all equipment onboard was reported to be fully operational.

It says the yacht was in good condition and well outfitted with all modern safety and navigation equipment and no defects were identified that may have led to or contributed to the casualty.

It says the skipper was experienced and qualified to operate this yacht, and was also qualified as a yachting instructor. The bowman was also experienced, and the two relatives were regular sailors on yachts and small boats.

It says the crewmembers lack of experience was not considered a factor.

The weather had been recorded as easterly winds, force 3-4, with a slight swell and low waves on departure from Baltimore on a rising tide.

The report says the discarded trawl net was the root cause of this casualty.

“Had this fishing gear been properly discharged ashore or had it been reported and recovered if accidentally lost, this incident could have been prevented,”it says.

“ The source of the net cannot be established as it had no tags and there is no record of it having been reported to any Irish authority,”it says.

It notes that the net should have been marked with tags as required by EU No. 404/2011 Article 11.

“ If the net was lost from a fishing vessel in Irish waters, it should have been reported under Marpol Annex V to the flag state as defined by article 48 of EU Regulation No. 1224/2009 to enable a navigation warning to be issued,”it notes, but “there was no such warning issued for the area”.

It says the net may or may not have been from an EU registered vessel. If not an EU registered vessel, it is still subject to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) which prohibits the deliberate dumping or discharge of fishing gear in the marine environment.

The report recommends that the Minister for Transport issue a marine notice which:

advises skippers of yachts navigating in areas which are known to have poorly marked fishing gear, lobster pots etc. that they should ensure the vessel's anchor is ready for immediate use;

advises fishers of the dangers of discarding nets from fishing vessels and sets out the obligatory regime on waste, plastics and recycling;

reminds fishers that if a net is lost, every effort must be made to recover it to enable it to be disposed of responsibly to shore reception facilities in accordance with the European Union (Port Reception Facilities for the Delivery of Waste from Ships) Regulations 2022 S.I. No. 351 of 2022;

reminds fishers that if a net cannot be recovered, the responsible authorities must be advised in accordance with Marpol Annex V so that a suitable navigational warning should be issued in the area where the net was lost;

reminds fishing vessel operators that they are required to record the discharge or loss of fishing gear in the Garbage Record Book or the ship's official logbook as specified in Regulations 7.1 and 10.3.6 of MARPOL Annex V. 2.2.2.

The MCIB report is here

Published in MCIB
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#ferry - Commanders who took a decision of an Irish Ferries ship to “run ahead of” a Status Orange storm writes The led to multiple injuries and extensive damage to freight cargo, a report has found.

Ten passengers and two crew members were injured when the MV Epsilon was caught during Storm Imogen while en route from Cherbourg in France in February 2016, (see Afloat's report).

The Italian-built ship hit winds of 60 knots in what one observer said was probably the “worst ever” crossing from France, adding that it was “lucky the ship was not lost”.

A report by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) into the incident found that the issue may have arisen because of a reliance upon an outdated weather forecast.

It also raised concerns over how decisions were made by both masters on the ship before it sailed.

According to the report, the night-time duty master voiced concerns about the impending storm during his hand over to the senior master at 7.00am on 7 February.

However, he was overruled by the day-time duty master – the ship’s senior master – and the sailing was prosecuted as scheduled.

For much more, click here.

Published in Ferry