Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Loss of Life Is Simply Too Great' Board Says in Fishing-Death Report

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Loss of Life Is Simply Too Great' Board Says in Fishing-Death Report

Article excerpt

Deckhand pulled under by lobster trap: board


HALIFAX - A new report details the frantic, fruitless attempt to rescue a deckhand pulled overboard just hours into the lobster season -- one of a series of deaths on both coasts that demonstrate the remarkable danger of commercial fishing.

"The loss of life on fishing vessels is simply too great," the Transportation Safety Board of Canada said after its probe on the November 30, 2015, death of a deckhand on the Cock-a-Wit Lady near Clark's Harbour, N.S.

The unidentified deckhand was a veteran of eight years on the boat, but made a brief mistake that killed him two-and-a-half hours into the trip, according to the TSB's report.

A lobster trap got stuck on a port-side railing, and he attempted to free it with his feet. He stepped into coils of rope attached to several traps, and was hauled quickly over the stern when it was freed, the report says.

"The deckhand was still standing in the coil of rope, and when it became taut, he was carried overboard and underwater by the weight and momentum of the traps," the TSB report said.

"The crew of the Cock-a-Wit Lady determined which of the multiple lines was attached to the deckhand and passed it around the stern and up the starboard side to the trap hauler. They rove the line around the hauler directly over the bulwarks and attempted to haul up the deckhand."

But the line was at an extreme angle, and broke under the weight of the traps and the deckhand, who was wearing an inflated flotation device.

The captain frantically pulled around to the other end of the line of traps, and the crew began hauling from the other end, this time using the boat's trap hauler.

Ten minutes after he went underwater, the deckhand was brought back up, but he no longer had a pulse. The crew was unable to resuscitate him.

The report said the search-and-rescue response was complicated by several factors: one of two aircraft in the area was busy with a simultaneous distress call on another vessel; the VHF rescue channel was jammed with conversation; and spotters couldn't identify the Cape Islander from among 40 similar boats in the area. …

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