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The Department of Transport has issued a reminder to fishing vessel owners, skippers and crew of the safety requirements for the use of cranes and other lifting equipment on deck.

In comes after a recent Marine Casualty Invesigation Board (MCIB) report into an incident on the fishing vessel Aquila off the Co Cork coast in late 2021.

As previously reported on, a crew member from the Philippines sustained crush injuries on the afternoon of 7 November 2021 when the vessel’s crane malfunctioned due to a loss of fluid from the main jib’s hydraulic cylinder.

MCIB investigators found that an adequate risk assessment was not made when the crane was first installed on the vessel. In addition, the crane operator’s elevated control position did not have a clear view of the crane’s workings.

Fishing vessel owners, employers and crew members are being reminded of the obligation to complete and document a thorough risk assessment of their operations in compliance with the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General application) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 299 of 2007), as amended by the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) (Amendment) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 732 of 2007), the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (S.I. No. 2 of 2020) and the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2021 (S.I. No. 619 of 2021).

Of note is Chapter 2 of Part 2: Use of Work Equipment, especially the examination and testing of lifting equipment, having a safe system of work and maintaining accurate and complete up to date maintenance records and registers of lifting equipment onboard. See also the Guide to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 published by the Health and Safety Authority.

Particular consideration should be given to the hazards associated with the operation of articulated deck cranes in deck areas presenting restricted observation of working areas and/or risk of collision with structural obstacles within the cranes lifting area.

Employers, skippers and crew members of fishing vessels are also reminded of the requirement for training for the operation of cranes, that crews should be made aware of the hazards associated with lifting equipment and heavy loads operating overhead, reminding them that cranes should be operated by trained and competent persons and reminding them that appropriate risk assessments are carried out prior to crane deck operations.

For more details, see Marine Notice No 24 of 2024 attached below.

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The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has said that a training session which went wrong on the river Corrib and resulted in the loss of two competitive rowing craft “posed a threat of death or serious injury” to those involved.

Fortunately, no lives were lost in the incident which occurred on January 14th, 2023, but the crew in two University of Galway rowing boats which were swept towards the Salmon Weir were novices with minimal experience.

New safety recommendations have been issued to eight rowing clubs after the MCIB identified that patterns of risky behaviour had become “normalised” and posed a threat to safety.

The incident occurred as University of Galway boats were approaching the end of their trip and saw other boats from Coláiste Iognáid heading upriver towards them.

One Coláiste Iognáid rowing boat with nine school teenagers was accompanied by a coach’s launch with two adults on board.

All craft steered towards the centre of the river to avoid a collision but this was in breach of “rules of the river”.

The vessels were now all in the river’s main current, with near-gale force westerly winds, and the two boats from the University of Galway Boat Club were swept towards the Salmon Weir where they capsized against safety booms.

The Coláiste Iognáid Rowing Club rowing craft subsequently capsized in reeds along the east bank, and all were rescued.

The MCIB criticised the university boat club for inadequate planning of a trip which took place in unsuitable weather and river conditions.

“A small craft warning and a gale warning were in effect from five hours before this rowing trip commenced, as winds of up to Force 8 were forecasted to occur along the western seaboard,” the report says.

It says the river conditions were also unsuitable for this rowing trip, as the river was in its normal winter spate conditions, with a high flow rate and a low water temperature.

“ These conditions existed for weeks before and after this casualty event. These conditions occurred in the vicinity of a significant weir, which the crews had to row past on both the outward and return legs,”it says.

“The high flow rate meant that the crews were unable to effectively control their boats, to change course away from the approaching weir. The low water temperature meant that the crews were exposed to the dangers of cold water immersion when their vessels capsized and they entered the water,”it says.

The MCIB notes that five incidents had occurred over the preceding two decades involving recreational boats at or above the weir.

The lack of a rescue vessel above the weir is also highlighted – the RNLI, Garda and Galway Fire and Rescue Service are located below the weir.

The full report is here

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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

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An incident where two crew members of a fishing vessel were asphyxiated during a fish tank cleaning operation could have had a “far more serious outcome” but for a number of factors, the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has said.

These factors included proximity and response of emergency services and some actions of the crew, along with the short distance to a hospital accident and emergency department, the MCIB says.

The incident occurred on the 24-metre fishing vessel Ardent, owned by Orpen Fishing Company Ltd of Castletownbere, Co Cork on October 31st, 2022.

It had left Port Oriel, Clogherhead to pair with FV Cisemair on fishing grounds in the Irish Sea, and was underway when the watch was transferred from the skipper to another crewmember, allowing the skipper to conduct the fish tank cleaning in preparation for the filling and cooling of the seawater within the tanks.

Both the skipper and crewmember were removing fish/waste product trapped in various locations within the fish hold/tank with limited airflow via the deck coaming access hatch.

The report says that the first “casualty” was overcome while passing below the tank centre boards. The second “casualty” was overcome while checking the condition of the first “casualty” who was lying on the tank floor.

The investigation says that a mixture of rotting fish and seawater was held within sections of the refrigerated sea water (RSW) system piping, cooler and valve chest below the shelter-deck over a prolonged period (approximately 150 hrs), at a temperature of approximately 15°C.

This produced dangerous levels of toxic gases that may have included: hydrogen sulphide, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide or carbon dioxide.

It says that both casualties were overcome by the toxic atmosphere when they lowered their heads into the “toxic pool”.

The vessel was turned around immediately, and returned to Port Oriel at a maximum speed of 9.4 knots before tidal constraints restricted access, while the Cisemar was asked to notify emergency services.

The vessel was brought alongside and secured with the aid of emergency services shore teams.

The two crew were treated in hospital, with one remaining in hospital for a number of weeks.

The MCIB recommends that the Minister for Transport should review the content of marine notices number 43 of 2016 and number 24 of 2009 and issue an updated marine notice warning crews on fishing vessels of the hazards associated with toxic gas generation and retention in RSW systems.

It makes other recommendations relating to enclosed space entry techniques, raising awareness of the correct use, maintenance and calibration of personal atmospheric monitoring systems, rescue equipment and recovery techniques.

It says crewmembers should participate in an appropriate drill and relevant codes of practice, and recommends the minister should review existing legislation on the requirement and application for onboard rescue breathing apparatus and training for confined spaces.

A breathing apparatus requirement should also apply to vessels with RSW systems installed,the report says.

The full MCIB report is here

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The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has recommended that the Minister for Transport should consider introducing regulations specific to the installation and operation of articulated hydraulic deck cranes on fishing vessels.

The MCIB recommendation is one of a number issued in its report inquiring into a crush injury sustained by a crewman on board a fishing vessel off the Cork coast in November 2021.

Recommendations in relation to risk assessments, safety legislation, hazard warnings and training for use of articulated deck cranes are also published in the report.

The incident occurred on board the 21 metre-long fishing vessel Aquila which was fishing south of the Kinsale gas rigs on November 7th, 2021.

The vessel with five crew onboard had left the fishing port of Union Hall, Co Cork, the night before. Wind at the time was force three, westerly, with a moderate sea.

The wooden twin trawler was rigged for Danish seine net fishing

As the report states, “at approximately 12.00 hrs on the 7th November, the fishing vessel was at the fishing grounds and the crew were hauling the second haul of the day using the vessel’s net handling crane”.

It says that the crane’s hydraulic system “experienced a sudden loss of hydraulic oil pressure, causing the crane’s jib and power head to uncontrollably lower inboard trapping a crew member between the power head and the underside of the deck supporting the net drum”.

The crewman, who is from the Philippines and had been on the crew for two years, suffered crush injuries.

The vessel’s skipper contacted the Cork Coast Guard Radio (CGR) by VHF radio at 12.38 hrs, advising it of the incident and requesting a medical evacuation of the injured crewman.

It says that at approximately 15.00 hrs, the Irish Coast Guard helicopter R115 from Shannon airlifted the injured man ashore to Cork University Hospital (CUH) for medical attention.

The man was discharged from CUH on November 8th, and was passed fit to fly home. He returned to the Philippines to recover.

It says he recuperated, and has since returned to work as a fisher onboard an Irish registered fishing vessel.

More details are in the MCIB report here

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The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has said that boarding and disembarking risk assessment and associated policies and procedures should “immediately be reviewed” after the serious injury of a diver working on salmon farms off the Galway coast.

The 33-year-old male contract diver, who was contracted by the salmon farm operators to inspect and maintain the salmon cages around Kilkieran Bay, Co Galway, sustained his injuries when he was pinned between two vessels during a transfer from one to the other off Ardmore pier on November 8th, 2022.

The incident occurred when a feed barge was making a rendezvous with a smaller vessel carrying five people, including two contract divers.

The injured casualty was brought back onboard the vessel and was subsequently airlifted to Galway University Hospital (GUH) where his injuries were assessed and included multiple fractures to the pelvis and fractured hip socket joints, the MCIB report says.

At the time of the interview with the MCIB in January 2023, the casualty was out of work, the report notes, and was walking aided by crutches.

Visibility was moderate or poor and winds on the day in question, November 8th 2022, were generally fresh force 5 to strong force 6 (mean wind speed 17 to 27 knots) and gusting up to 40 knots for a time.

In its analysis, the MCIB says that “means of safe access was not appropriate for transferring from one vessel to another and the practice of stepping over the side rails and onto the feed barge’s tyre fender became normalised”.

“ The prevailing conditions including the direction and height of the swell were contributing factors to this incident,”it says, as the licence required the vessel to operate in favourable weather.

There were missed opportunities during the purchase process to verify safe access to and from the vessels as both had safe means of access, but were not compatible when the vessels were moored alongside each other, the MCIB report says.

It says the operator's risk assessment failed to identify the deficiencies in vessel transfer operations and in particular with regard to third parties such as the contracted diver.

It says while the operation was identified by the operator under their safe systems of work, it was not authorised by the Marine Survey Office by way of a “permit to tender”.

In a series of recommendations to the salmon farm operator and owners of the two vessels on reviewing procedures, the MCIB also called on the Minister for Transport, in conjunction with his marine counterpart, to consider if it is “ appropriate or not” to issue a Marine Notice or similar, directed to the operators and those involved in marine aquaculture activities.

It recommends that the Marine Notice would remind operators and all involved of the dangers associated with boarding and transiting vessels at sea;

that operators have a safe system of work including suitable and sufficient risk assessments in place for operations carried out at sea including transfer of personnel onto fish cages and feed barges;

and that operators take steps to ensure that vessels transferring personnel at sea are properly licensed in accordance with passenger boat legislation and “permit to tender” for tendering operations as applicable.

The report is here

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The Marine Casualty Investigation Board has recommended that the Minister for Justice should consider carrying out an audit of the crewing arrangements of any fishing vessel or vessels to ensure non-EEA crew are compliant with the rules governing work permits.

It also says the minister should also ensure there is a robust system in place to ensure those given permits have a sufficient knowledge of English to be able to communicate with fellow crew on board Irish registered fishing vessels.

The MCIB recommendations have been made on foot of its investigation into the circumstances surrounding a serious leg injury sustained by a crew member on board a vessel, the John B, off the east coast in July 2020.

The incident occurred when the crew’s leg became trapped between the centre weight and the weight retaining cage at the stern of the vessel during a prawn fishing operation on July 17th, 2020.

The load was adjusted allowing the injured crew member to extricate his trapped leg from the grip of the centre weight, and other crew provided first aid.

The owners were informed, the vessel steamed to the nearest port, Howth, and the man was taken to Beaumont Hospital emergency department by private vehicle.

No external medical or emergency assistance was sought or requested by the skipper or the owners, the report notes.

The report concludes that no risk assessment for hauling the nets was shared with the crew, and some were employed without mandatory training.

It says the skipper was “inexperienced on the vessel and relied on his crew to recover the gear unsupervised, while he remained in the wheelhouse”.

It says evidence from the skipper asserting that the crew member had been warned about the dangers of standing on the weight while recovering the fishing gear, but continued to do so, “is not supported by any detail or any other evidence”.

It also says this assertion is denied by the casualty.

It says the design and layout of the fishing gear on this vessel was poor, making communication between the winch operator and deck crew difficult.

It says the winch operator could not see the crewmembers feeding the nets on to the reels, and clear lines of communication were also not in place, given that the winch operator could not see the crewmembers feeding the nets on to the reels.

“ Had there been a safe design and planned effective communications in place effective supervision could have been adhered to,”it says.

“ Communications in general onboard the vessel was hampered by a language barrier between crewmembers,” it says and there was a dispute over the number of crew on board during the trip.

The MCIB says it “appears to be the more probable case on the basis of the evidence available” that the crew comprised five and the skipper on the trip in question, and not the normal crew of six and the skipper.

“One man less in the crew complement can of course increase the fatigue factor and also increase the workload on the remaining crew,” the report says

“In addition, there is the issues as to appropriate manning for particular operations. The Working Time Regulation records provided raise some issues as to how many of the crew were working on the operation of deploying and recovering the nets on the day in question,”it says.

“Given the experience of the crew, the nature of the operations and the nature of the trip, a crew of six and a skipper would have been more appropriate on the vessel,” it says.

Once the incident occurred, given the seriousness of the injury, the skipper should have contacted Medico Cork through the Coast Guard Radio Station for advice and arranged safe evacuation to the hospital, but this did not occur, it says.

“ The owners and operators of the vessel did not comply with a variety of legislation in place governing operations and safety of the crew of an Irish registered fishing vessel,”it says.

“It has not been possible to determine definitively who was the employer of the casualty or the other crew members at the time, given the lack of documentation,”it says, and there is an issue with determining the owner.

“ It is essential on any fishing vessel to have clarity on ownership and on the employer given that the regulatory regime imposes duties on owners and on employers,”the MCIB says.

The vessel was submitted for decommissioning, and the report makes a number of recommendations addressed to the registered owners, to the Minister for Justice, Minister for Transport and Bord Iascaigh Mhara.

The full report and recommendations are on the MCIB website

Published in MCIB

Following a recent MCIB report into a serious deck accident aboard a fishing vessel in Dingle Bay last year, the Department of Transport has published a Marine Notice reminding mariners of the dangers of fishing alone.

The MCIB report explains how a lone fisherman on the 9.9-metre An Portán Óir was shooting lobster pots on Friday 14 October 2022 when his leg became entangled in the pot ropes and he remained trapped until he was rescued around four hours later.

It was established that the lack of a personal locator beacon (PLB) was a contributing factor, and that the fisher’s severe pain experienced in the incident could have been alleviated if he had access to a knife.

In response to the report’s recommendations, the Marine Notice reminds owners and operators of fishing vessels of the dangers associated with fishing alone and of the importance of always wearing an approved personal flotation device/lifejacket and a personal location beacon while on deck. Personal locator beacons should be registered.

In addition, lone fishers are recommended to have a suitably protected knife on their person while on deck during fishing operations, especially during potting operations. Knives may also be secured at strategic locations on deck to be available quickly in case of entanglement.

Lone fishers are recommended to carry out a personal risk assessment before each voyage, to remind themselves of the potential risks and to take mitigation measures as required.

More information can be found in Marine Notice No 71 of 2023, attached below.

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A recent Marine Notice from the Department of Transport draws attention to the recent report by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) on an incident involving a fishing vessel in Dingle last year.

As previously reported on, it was found that an incorrectly designed electrical system on the French-registered FV Bikain was the main cause of a serious collision with a pontoon in Dingle Harbour which caused extensive damage on 25 November 2022.

It was established that the design of the electrical system necessitated that emergency batteries were required to be in use at all times for the operation of the vessel, but emergency batteries should only be used for emergency situations when the main power supply fails.

The MCIB has made the following recommendations to owners:

  • A list of critical systems should be carried onboard vessels with a maintenance and testing schedule included for each critical system or piece of equipment.
  • Records of test and maintenance should be retained onboard.
  • Sufficient spares should be carried onboard to enable repair of a vessel’s critical systems in the event of failure.
  • Any failure of critical systems should be reported immediately, and a thorough investigation carried out to identify the root cause.
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There are two very specific points in the annual report of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board for last year (2022), which, in pursuance of maritime safety, should be heeded by the sectors involved – watersports and the fishing industry.

The Chairperson of the Board, Claire Callanan, recalls the recommendations made in the 2021 report about incidents associated with water sports and water recreational activities and says: “The MCIB urges those bodies to whom recommendations have been addressed in these recent reports to take steps to improve much-needed safety regimes..”

On the fishing industry, she says: “It is clear that many incidents on fishing vessels are not reported to the MCIB as required by legislation.”

 Marine Casualty Investigation Board Chairperson Claire Callanan Marine Casualty Investigation Board Chairperson Claire Callanan

These are strong comments on the sectors concerned.

“In the MCIB Annual Reports for 2020 and for 2021 we reported on incidents associated with water sports and water recreational activities. We focussed on the recommendations for organisations (especially clubs and commercial entities) aimed at improving their safety standards. In February 2023 we published a report following a lengthy investigation into a tragic fatality that focussed on the safety regime in kayaking in third-level institutions.”

The Chairperson says that the MCIB has made extensive recommendations to the Minister, to Water Safety Ireland and to Canoeing Ireland and Sport Ireland, including:

  • That Canoeing Ireland, in conjunction with Sport Ireland, should consider the establishment, and promotion of a register of Canoeing Ireland qualified instructors with their qualifications that would be available to the public.
    • That Canoeing Ireland, in conjunction with Sport Ireland, should consider the establishment of a scheme for the audit of the safety policies and practices of entities affiliated with this national governing body.
    • That Water Safety Ireland should consider actions to further promote both public awareness of kayaking safety and measures to prevent kayaking accidents

On the fishing industry, Ms.Callanan comments: “ It is clear that many incidents on fishing vessels are not reported to the MCIB as required by legislation. Even from the limited information available to the MCIB from Coast Guard situation reports it appears that many incidents could have been avoided by safety assessment and planning and by proper training of crew.

As noted in MCIB Report No. 302/2022, the Maritime Safety Strategy identified that the fishing vessel sector accounts for a significant proportion of all maritime fatalities and that fishing vessels less than 15 metres (m) in length make up 90% of the Irish fishing fleet in numbers. Fishing vessel safety, particularly in relation to small and medium fishing vessels, is a particular concern. Among the key factors contributing to the loss of life in the fishing sector is working alone and fatigue.”

The full MCIB report for 2022 is available on the MCIB website

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