A CORONER will deliver his findings and recommendations into the sinking of two fishing vessels and loss of eight crewmen after over a week of hearing evidence. Pictured: The Dianne after it was recovered from sea in 2018.
A CORONER will deliver his findings and recommendations into the sinking of two fishing vessels and loss of eight crewmen after over a week of hearing evidence. Pictured: The Dianne after it was recovered from sea in 2018. Ashley Clark

Commercial fishing industry to face reforms

A CORONER will deliver his findings and recommendations into the sinking of two fishing vessels and the loss of eight crewmen after more than a week of hearing evidence.

The joint inquest began last Tuesday into the sinking of trawler Cassandra in April 2016 and Dianne in October 2017.

Several witnesses had been called to the stand including the only survivor, Ruben McDornan, a crewman aboard the Dianne when it capsized and sank off Seventeen Seventy.

During his summary of the evidence and witness statements, counsel assisting the coroner John Aberdeen said the most important outcome of the inquest was to reduce the number of deaths on the water.

The family of one of the men lost in the Dianne tragedy arrive at the Gladstone Courthouse for the inquest into the vessel's sinking.
The family of one of the men lost in the Dianne tragedy arrive at the Gladstone Courthouse for the inquest into the vessel's sinking. Sarah Barnham

Mr Aberdeen told the coroner there was sufficient evidence to assume the eight men lost to both sinkings had drowned.

He said in both cases there was a significant delay in alerting search and rescue authorities to the capsize.

Mr Aberdeen said the men on board both vessels had no time to reach for and use safety equipment such as life jackets or emergency position indicating radio beacons.

The life rafts on board both vessels were unable to be used or did not inflate.

Mr Aberdeen said in both cases secured freezers had become dislodged and caused obstructions to the crewmen which may have contributed to their deaths.

He made many recommendations to the coroner, including the implementation of an alert system that would notify the Queensland Police Service whenever a fishing vessel failed to sends its location data to the Vessel Monitoring System.

Currently, there may be delays of up to four hours for search and rescue authorities to receive this information - which Mr Aberdeen said could have been crucial in the case of the Cassandra and the Dianne.

No further evidence will be given at the inquest and representing parties will provide summaries of their findings today in the Coroners Court at Gladstone.