Man overboard from creel fishing vessel North Star with loss of 1 life

Location: 16nm north of Cape Wrath, Scotland.

Accident Investigation Report 19/2018

Investigation report into marine accident including what happened, safety lessons learned and recommendations:

MAIB investigation report 19-2018: North Star

Annexes to MAIB investigation report 19-2018: North Star

Photograph of fishing vessel North Star
North Star in the seaway (image taken from the rescue helicopter video footage)


On 5 February 2018 at approximately 1815 a crewman, on the 16.46m creel fishing vessel North Star, was dragged overboard after his leg became entangled in the fishing gear as the crew were shooting creels 16nm north of Cape Wrath, Scotland. The crew recovered him back on board about 10 minutes later; he was unconscious and unresponsive. The crew carried out cardiopulmonary resuscitation for over an hour, but they were unable to revive him.

The accident occurred because the crewman was working close to running ropes and became entangled in the back rope while engaged in toggling the creels on to the leg ropes. Although the alarm was raised quickly the skipper was unable to stop the vessel in time to prevent the crewman from being dragged overboard.

Safety lessons

  • the vessel’s documented risk controls did not reflect the operational practice on board

  • the crew underestimated the risks associated with a crewman becoming entangled in the back rope and being dragged overboard

  • shooting operations did not follow published industry best practice to effectively physically separate the crew from the back rope and to have knives at hand

  • North Star’s owners were new to fishing vessel ownership and did not take a proactive approach to ensure regulatory compliance in respect of risk assessment review, vessel inspection and crew qualifications


A recommendation (2018/130) has been made to Scrabster Seafoods Limited, which seeks to further improve the overall safety of its crews. A recommendation (2018/131) has also been made to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency aimed at improving the support and guidance it provides to commercial fishing vessel owners.

A safety flyer to the fishing industry highlighting a number of the safety lessons was produced for this report.

Published 8 November 2018