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Fishing Master Fined for Defective Boarding Ladder

Fishing Master Fined for Defective Boarding Ladder

The Master of a fishing vessel, James Langan, of Dungloe, Co. Donegal, was convicted and fined €4,000 at Cork District Court on the 26th of March 2024 for an offence of failing to comply with the legal requirement to ensure a boarding ladder facilitated the safe boarding of a Sea-Fisheries Protection Officer of the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) and failing to ensure the boarding ladder was in good order.

The Court heard evidence how an Irish Sea-Fisheries Protection Officer (SFPO), attached to a European Fisheries Control Agency patrol vessel, attempted to board the UK-registered sea-fishing vessel, the ‘Vision V’. However, the ladder ropes split as the SFPO was climbing the ladder. The Court heard how the SFPO fell into the sea before being rescued and the heavy ladder was close to falling on the SFPO as it collided with his helmet visor before the ladder sank. The Court heard evidence from the SFPO that the ropes had frayed and should have been checked by the crew. The Court heard on behalf of the Defence how it was acknowledged “a tragic incident was avoided” - the vessel owner committed to replacing the ladder following the incident and would obtain waterproof equipment for the storage of the ladder.

The sea-fishing vessel was directed to Cork Port and detained pending the matter being heard before the District Court. Having pleaded guilty to the charge, the Court remarked that the incident could have been “a far more difficult situation.” The Court commented that the regulations were in place “for a reason; to keep people safe” and to avoid any tragic consequences for crew trying to disembark.

Commenting on the case, an SFPA spokesperson stated:

“Our thoughts are firstly with our SFPO who fortunately was not the subject of a tragic incident or debilitating injury. The safety of SFPOs performing their duties is of paramount importance to the SFPA. The failure to provide a safe boarding ladder for use by officers, as required under law, is a very serious matter, as emphasised by the Court in this case. Vessel owners and fishing masters must comply with their responsibility to ensure the safety of boarding ladders. “