Death of trawlerman leads to call for improved safety at sea

THE Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has said there is an onus on the fishing industry to improve safety following the death of a trawler crewman off the south-west coast.

The MCIB made its comments after investigating the death of a 33-year-old man who fell overboard while trying to untangle fouled netting on the MFV Janireh. His body was never recovered.

Shortly after 1.30am on February 13 last year, a problem arose when the twin-rigged wooden vessel was fishing 20 nautical miles south west of the Mizen Head.

The boat, out of Union Hall, was skippered by Christopher Deasy and crewed by his brother Denis and Egyptian Nadi Sehsaah.

The 33-year-old Egyptian was described as a good swimmer and had worked in various Irish fishing ports since 2007.

The netting equipment fouled and the skipper and Mr Sehsaah were trying to free it when the crewman lost his balance and fell into the sea.

The accident occurred at approximately 1.45am and, according to the marine casualty investigation, he possibly was not wearing a personal floatation device.

Christopher Deasy immediately alerted his brother who spotted their colleague in the water.

The skipper manoeuvred the boat towards Mr Sehsaah, who was seen face down in the water with his hands outstretched.

A lifebuoy was thrown towards him but there was no reaction, despite both the brothers repeatedly shouting at him.

As they tried to get nearer to him, the nets fouled the propeller and immobilised the vessel.

Christopher Deasy put out a mayday call, which the coastguard in Valentia picked up and immediately called on all vessels in the area to provide assistance.

A Dutch-flagged vessel was first on the scene and did a preliminary sweep of the area.

Its crew sighted the lifebuoy but there was no sign of Mr Sehsaah.

Vessels from Baltimore and the Waterford-based coastguard helicopter expanded the search, and the naval service later joined in. The search was called off after 48 hours and the Egyptian’s body was never found.

Investigators concluded there was an onus on the fishing industry, including its representative organisations, vessel owners, skippers and crew to take responsibility for safety and improve the safety culture within the industry as a whole.

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