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Marine Casualty Investigation Board Warns Against Alcohol And Mobile Phone Usage

Two people lost their lives in two separate incidents when boarding their berthed fishing vessels last year says the Chairperson of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board in its annual report released this week.

Claire Callan, Chairperson reports that the MCIB investigated ten marine casualties, double the number in 2018. Last year a total of six people lost their lives in the marine casualties under investigation while one person involved in a rowing incident at Thomandgate, Co Limerick was left with life changing injuries. Two incidents involving kayaks resulted in two fatalities. A further two died while engaged in recreational fishing. The Board was also involved in two shipping investigations with other States.

The Chairperson refers to the involvement of alcohol and mobile phone usage: “Regrettably, as in previous years I must comment on incidents where toxicology results supplied by the Coroner’s Office reflected evidence of alcohol. While it is not always possible to definitively determine the exact cause of an incident the Board published two reports in 2019 where alcohol could have impaired the judgement and reaction times of the Casualties. Such impairment has a detrimental effect on most people's ability to deal with the unexpected. No member of a crew should consume alcohol or other intoxicants either prior to or during any trip on water. In the event of the unexpected, which can develop into a serious situation very quickly, the ability to think quickly and calmly can be the difference between life and death.

“I also wish to draw attention to the inadvisability of depending on mobile phones as the primary means of communication while at sea. Mobile phones should not be relied on as the primary means of contacting the emergency service. Marine VHF radio is the most appropriate means of communication and the primary means of Distress and Safety communication. In addition, the carriage of an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) and/or Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) is strongly advised. Mobile phones should not be considered as a suitable substitute nor should they be relied on as the sole means of communication while on water.”