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Commercial Fishing



Fatal fall overboard from the fishing vessel Eder Sands approximately 150 nautical miles west of Ireland: MAIB report. Report on the investigation of the fatal fall overboard from the fishing vessel Eder Sands (UL 257) approximately 150 nautical miles west of Ireland


On 7 October 2022, a deckhand from the UK registered gill netter Eder Sands fell overboard while the vessel was shooting a net approximately 150 nautical miles west of Ireland. Despite an extensive 21-hour search that involved other vessels and fixed-wing aircraft, the crew member was not found.

 The key safety issues identified were:

  • The unwritten on board process for shooting nets was unsafe and required crew to work at height without appropriate guard rails or a safety harness and tether to protect them.
  • The crew were habitually wearing their lifejackets with loose waist straps and it was probable that the deckhand slipped out of his lifejacket when he fell into the water.
  • The lifejackets used by the crew were compliant but unsuitable for the vessel’s operation because they were not fitted with a light, personal locator beacon, crotch strap or spray hood.

Safety recommendations:

  • The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has been recommended (2024/103) to review and revise its guidance to fishing vessel owners in MGN 588 (F) to review the suitability of personal flotation devices issued to their crew and ensure that MGN 588 (F) reflects fishing industry advice on the selection of personal flotation devices with safety features appropriate to the vessel’s operation.
  • Recommendations (2024/104, 2024/105 and 2024/106) have been made to Eder Sands’ owner to: amend the vessel’s safety management system to include operational procedures and vessel-specific risk assessments for shooting and hauling nets, and record the inspection and maintenance of each personal flotation device carried on board; review the suitability of the personal flotation devices and consider the provision of a light, spray hood and personal locator beacon; ensure that its crew follow the guidance in MGN 588 (F) and wear their personal flotation devices in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Photo credit MAIB