Safety update

October 2001 The hazards of working cray pots close inshore

This safety update is for cray fisherman. It is issued to raise awareness of the potential serious risk to safety to cray fisherman working close inshore. It provides safe practice tips for how best to reduce the risks involved and to alert people to the risk to safety associated with lookouts and large swells.


In a recent accident, a 5.5 metre cray boat capsized and foundered when her two crew were working pots about 200 metres off Mawhai Point on the east coast of the North Island. Neither crew member was wearing a lifejacket, although these were stowed beneath a seat on the boat.

At a time when the boat was cruising at low speed, and the crew were looking for their next line of cray pots, the Skipper saw a large swell forming and suddenly moving towards the boat. The Skipper tried to turn the boat's bow to port, into the swell. However, before this could be achieved, the swell struck the port side of the boat, causing it to heel over and capsize.

The Skipper and the Deckhand were thrown into the sea. There was insufficient time for either of them to grab a lifejacket. Although they were able to hold onto some fish bins, which had floated clear, these did not have sufficient buoyancy to keep them afloat.

The boat sank shortly after capsizing. The Skipper and the Deckhand decided to swim to shore but shortly afterwards they became separated. The Skipper made it to shore but despite an extensive search, the body of the Deckhand was never found.

Safe practice tips

Maritime New Zealand reminds cray fishermen of the importance of keeping a proper lookout for large swells when working close inshore. When working pots, it is strongly recommended that lifejackets are worn. Failing that they should be kept immediately at hand.

Original source content - Boat Notice 062001, October: The hazards of working cray pots close inshore.

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