FISHING crews should be reminded of the importance of ensuring gangways between trawlers are properly fixed, the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) has recommended after investigating the death of a West Cork fishermen.
John McCarthy, who was in his late 50s and from Rodeen, Castletownbere, drowned after falling between trawlers while returning to his fishing vessel, the MVF Menhaden in Killybegs Harbour in Donegal on March 14th 2019.
The MCIB, in its report on the tragedy, noted that at the time the MFV Menhaden was moored outside another boat, the MV Grip Transporter which in turn was moored outside another trawler, the MVF Olgarry.
According to MCIB report, CCTV footage shows him climbing the gangway from the quay on to the starboard side of the MVF Olgarry at around 12.55am.
The footage showed Mr McCarthy crossing to the port side of the MVF Olgarry behind the wheelhouse but he did not reappear on footage forward of the wheelhouse where the gangway to the MV Grip Transporter was rigged.
Mr McCarthy’s crewmates raised the alarm at around 10.30am that morning that he was missing and a search was launched and his body was recovered from the shore at the east side of Killybegs harbour at around 1.40 pm.
A native of Bere Island, Mr McCarthy was the engineer on the MFV Menhaden and had been fishing with its skipper for almost 40 years, regularly making the trip north to fish for herring and mackerel off Donegal.
According to the MCIB report, Mr McCarthy ‘most likely fell into the water when transiting between the MFV Olgarry and the MV Grip Transporter. Contributory factors included alcohol consumption, weather conditions and the lack of personal protective equipment.’
The MCIB recommended that the Minister for Transport issue a notice reminding fishing vessel crews of the dangers associated with boarding and transiting across vessels and that gangways should be rigged.