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Marine / Fisherman who died in man overboard accident lost balance, report says

A FISHERMAN who died in the sea off Shetland last year lost balance and fell overboard when going to carry out a repair, an accident report says.

His lifejacket inflated automatically but despite their best efforts crewmates could not recover him from the water.

The findings are included in an interim report into the fatal man overboard incident on the Copious in February 2021 which has been published by the Marine Accident Investigations Branch (MAIB).

The Lerwick registered whitefish trawler Copious.

The UK Government agency says its investigation has covered the “management of safe working practices on board Copious and aspects of emergency preparedness in relation to man overboard such as the equipment available, the conduct and effectiveness of drills, and the procedures in place”.

The MAIB has taken the step of releasing an interim report because a full investigation has not been published within 12 months of the accident.

The report says that in the early hours of 18 February, a deckhand on the twin-rigged stern trawler fell overboard around 30 miles south east of Sumburgh.

“The deckhand had climbed onto the aft bulwark to carry out an unplanned repair to the gear when he lost balance and fell into the sea,” it says.

“His lifejacket inflated automatically but, despite their efforts, his crewmates were unable to recover him back on board.

“The deckhand was recovered unconscious from the water by a coastguard helicopter and taken to hospital in Lerwick, Shetland Islands, but could not be resuscitated.”

The man who tragically died was later named as 45-year-old Joseph Lacaste.

An appeal to raise money for his family back home in the Philippines raised thousands.

The MAIB report says the full investigation is now complete and that a draft report is being prepared.

It will be distributed to stakeholders for a 30-day consultation period in due course.