Fish farm is blasted on horror drowning of Marine
Boss fined £5500
THE owners of a fish farm where a Marine died were blasted by a sheriff yesterday.
Martin Blackley, 26, drowned when he became caught in ropes during a dive to clear out dead fish.
After hearing evidence from a fatal accident inquiry, Sheriff Desmond Leslie criticised the farm’s “cavalier” attitude and said the dive was “ill-fated”.
Martin, of 45 Commando based at Arbroath, Angus, was home on sick leave when the tragedy happened.
He was at the Marine Har ve s t f i s h f a rm at Aultbea, Wester Ross, in May 2002 and agreed to help clear a 52ft deep fish pen when asked by friend James Bell.
Bell’s dad Colin owns Seahorse Aquaculture, who run the farm.
But Martin, of Aultbea, became t rapped in a salmon cage. Hewas underwater for morethan an hour.
The inquiry at Dingwall Sheriff Court was told that Martin, who hoped to join the Olympic biathlon team, was inexperienced and had no insurance.
There was no lifeline, no communication between diver and vessel and no back-up oxygen.
It also heard there had been no diving plan and that Martin was only wearing a half-face diving mask, not the full- face mask needed.
Sheriff Leslie criticised the “cavalier” approach to safety, adding: “This project was ill- fated from its inception. Diving industry standards and procedures were ignored.”
Peter Cook, a Health and Safety Executive diving inspector, said Seahorse Aquaculture failed to provide enough people for the dive team and scuba equipment was defective.
After the tragedy, Colin Bell was fined £5500.
Martin’s mother Jeanette said: “ The judgment tells us what we knew, that the death could have been avoided.”
TRAGEDY: Martin Blackley in his military uniform
FRIEND: James Bell