Fish farm is blasted on hor­ror drown­ing of Marine

Boss fined £5500

Daily Record - - Showb Uzz - By Alis­tair Munro re­porters@dai­

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

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