South Scotland

Boat condition criticised in report on Scots fisherman death

The boat was last seen about 15 miles west of the Holyhead coast
Image caption Mr Robertson fell in to the Irish Sea off the north Wales coast at Anglesey

A Scottish fisherman died after falling overboard from a boat found to have deck walls lower than the minimum statutory height, an inquiry has found.

Steven Robertson, 25, from Dalbeattie, fell from the scallop dredger St Amant off the north Wales coast at Anglesey on 13 January 2012.

His body was never recovered.

The condition and standard of housekeeping on board were "poor", the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) found.

The boat's owner, skipper and crewmen had an "extremely poor attitude to establishing and maintaining a safe working environment on board the vessel", according to the report.

It stated that precautions which might have prevented the accident were not put into practice.

It is thought Mr Robertson could have tripped or slipped on part of the fishing gear or equipment that was stowed on the deck. He was not wearing a life jacket or beacon when he fell.

No crew members witnessed the incident.

Hazard awareness

The investigation established that the 58ft dredger had been given an exemption from complying with the minimum bulwark height requirements contained in the Fishing Vessel (Safety Provisions) Rules 1975.

The arrangement of St Amant that led to the initial decision to grant the exemption had not been reviewed in accordance with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's (MCA) procedures, meaning that parts of the vessel's bulwarks were less than the minimum statutory height.

The investigation also found that a large proportion of the deficiencies which had been identified during previous surveys and inspections of St Amant had never been confirmed as rectified.

The owner of St Amant has been recommended to take action to improve both the safety of the working practices on board and the hazard awareness of the vessel's crew.

Recommendations have also been made to the MCA to review and clarify aspects of its survey and inspection policy for fishing vessels.

The report said the MCA has since written to the owner of St Amant requiring the height of the vessel's bulwarks to be increased.

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