Jury rules misadventure after fishermen die from carbon monoxide poisoning

A jury has returned a verdict of death by misadventure at an inquest into the deaths of two Northumberland fishermen who died on a boat in Whitby Harbour.

After hearing evidence into the deaths of Edward Ide, 21, who lived in Blyth, and Mark Arries, 26, from Amble, the jury found that the men had died from carbon monoxide poisoning from a cooker aboard the fishing boat, the Eshcol.

Coroner Michael Oakley told the inquest that he would now write to the government’s Department of Transport recommending that it be mandatory for all small fishing vessels to be fitted with carbon-monoxide alarms.

The inquest heard that the men had returned the boat to the harbour on January 15 after a 36-hour trip fishing for scallops.

They were found dead at around 9am on the same day by a skipper from another vessel.

A third crew member, Thomas Berry, told the inquest that rather than spend the night on the boat he had caught a taxi home to Scarborough to be with his girlfriend.

Mr Berry said Mr Arries had complained of toothache and of being cold, and that he had put on the cooker’s gas ring for heating.

Skipper, Christian Harney told the inquest that he became suspicious the next morning when he could not rouse the two crewmen for re-fueling.

He said: “I was banging quite hard on the door and on the steel work to get their attention.”

Forensic pathologist Dr Peter Cooper, who carried out a post-mortem examination on the men, said he found fatal levels of carbon monoxide in their blood.

The inquest also heard that an inspection by the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) carried out at the end of last year had given the boat a clean bill of health.

The coroner said he would recommend to the government that there should be minimum standards of accommodation for people sleeping on small fishing vessels, as well as that the MCA safety inspections of small fishing vessels include checks to the cookers and heating appliances.

The coroner also concurred with a recommendation by the MAIB that the Seafish Industry Authority should educate fishermen about the dangers of carbon monoxide.