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Commercial Fishing



Fatal man overboard from Saint Peter, near Torness Point, Scotland: MAIB Report. Report on the investigation of a fatal man overboard from the single-handed creel fishing vessel, Saint Peter (LH22), 1.2 nautical miles east of Torness Point, Scotland on 2 May 2021


On the morning of 2 May 2021, the skipper of single-handed creel fishing vessel Saint Peter, was shooting creels east of Torness Point, Scotland. There were no witnesses to the accident but it is likely that one of the skipper’s legs became entangled in a bight of rope while attempting to unsnag a string of creels and was pulled overboard. The skipper was wearing a personal flotation device (PFD), which fully inflated and kept him afloat, but once in the water he was unable to raise an alarm or reboard his vessel.

A concerned relative and a friend of the skipper searched for and found Saint Peter unmanned with a string of creels steaming from its shooting door. They contacted the coastguard, and the ensuing search and rescue operation located Saint Peter’s skipper, who was recovered from the water by helicopter at 17:51; he was unresponsive and a short while later was declared deceased.

The key safety issues identified were:

  • Single-handed fishing is known to be high-risk and fishers are advised to follow industry guidelines to minimise the chance of being pulled overboard.
  • Emergency measures such as the rigging of a man overboard ladder, and the wearing of personal locator beacons (PLB) improve the chance of reboarding a vessel and sending a distress message.
  • Following well-prepared risk assessments and realistic safety procedures offers the single-handed fishers protection from the hazards they encounter at sea.

Safety recommendations:

Given the existing guidance on the risks of single-handed fishing operations and the MAIB’s safety recommendations made in previous recent investigation reports, no further recommendations regarding single-handed fishing have been made.