Lack of gas alarm and extreme fatigue led to death of fishermen

The scene at Whitby Fish Market where two men were found dead aboard a boat''w140312r
The scene at Whitby Fish Market where two men were found dead aboard a boat''w140312r

The tragic deaths of two fishermen as they slept in their beds could have been prevented, a report has claimed.

Mark Arries, 26, and Edward Ide, 21, died on January 15 on board the scallop dredger Eshcol, which was berthed in Whitby Harbour.



A report published on Wednesday by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch has said that a number of factors led to the deaths of the two young men, who were originally from Northumberland.

MAIB chief inspector Steve Clinch said: “This is one of several fatal accidents recently investigated by the MAIB where fishermen or leisure boat occupants have been poisoned by carbon monoxide.

“There is no question that fitting CO alarms in accommodation areas of all small vessels would help prevent further similar tragedies from occurring in future.”

In this area to exploit the abundance of scallops, the M220 Eshcol was berthed beside Whitby fish market.

The scene at Whitby Fish Market where two men were found dead aboard a boat''w140312f

The scene at Whitby Fish Market where two men were found dead aboard a boat''w140312f

The report explains that with temperatures outside measuring around 4°C and with no working electric heaters, the two men resorted to switching on a gas grill in the boat’s wheelhouse to provide heat.

Other fishermen who visited the men during the night the men died - the crew had been unloading scallops until 2.30am - explained how the two men were extremely cold and shivering.

With no carbon monoxide detector fitted, the two young men had no idea they were being slowly poisoned.

Post mortem examinations on Mark and Edward discovered they had both died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The saturation in Mark’s blood was 62 per cent, while Edward had a saturation of 62%. Death is possible within hours if the saturation of carbon monoxide within a person’s blood stream exceeds 50%.

In the week since joining the vessel on January 8, the crew had spent over 100 hours at sea, and the report suggests that the severe exhaustion this caused may have caused poor decision-making by the men and contributed to their deaths.

The report states: “When fishing, Eshcol’s crew took turns in the wheelhouse. Only brief periods of sleep were possible. Both of the deceased were extremely tired. Their fatigue potentially affected their decision-making and would have caused them to fall asleep as soon as they went to their bunks.”

Concerns have been raised about small boat owners not being educated as to the dangers posed by carbon monoxide.

The report explains how changes in the way small fishing vessels are being operated means many fishermen are sleeping on board vessels that are not equipped for overnight accommodation.

Recommendations have been made to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency which are intended to ensure that accommodation areas in all small fishing vessels are fitted with a carbon monoxide alarm.

A recommendation has also been made to the Sea Fish Industry Authority, which is intended to raise the general awareness and educate fishermen as to the dangers of carbon monoxide on board small fishing vessels.

Factors which led to deaths

The metal gauze in the grill was holed and corroded, causing extraordinarily high levels of carbon monoxide emissions

The cooker was four years old and had probably never been serviced

The wheelhouse door and windows were closed and the sleeping area had no other means of ventilation

No carbon monoxide alarm was fitted

Neither the guidance for the installation of gas appliances on board vessels, nor the cooker manufacturer’s instructions had been followed when the cooker was fitted

Prior to the accident, the deceased were extremely tired and cold

The vessel was not equipped for overnight sleeping

The heaters provided on board did not work or were damaged

An inquest into the deaths of the Mark Arries and Edward Ide is set to be held at Scarborough Town Hall next Thursday at 10am