‘My son’s life needs to matter’: Victim’s mum speaks out
THE mother of one of six fishermen who died in the FV Dianne tragedy nearly two years ago has questioned why safety measures for the industry have not already been implemented.
Kay Bidner's son Adam, 33, was part of the seven-man crew on-board the 18m sea cucumber trawler, that capsized in rough seas north of the town of 1770, on October 16, 2017.
Other victims of the mostly Cairns crew included Zac Feeney, 28, Eli Tonks, 39, Chris Sammut, 34, Ben Leahy, 45, and Adam Hoffman, 30.
Only one man survived the tragedy, Cairns fisher Ruben McDornan.
Central Coroner magistrate David O'Connell yesterday delivered his findings from the inquest in the sinking of the Dianne, making a number of recommendations, including that the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) immediately implement the sharing of its "failure to poll" function of the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) that would alert police via SMS and email when a vessel did not check in.
Ms Bidner, whose son's body has yet to be found, said she was very grateful to the coroner for his recommendations.
She particularly noted Mr O'Connell's criticism of DAF for adopting a "bureaucratic obstruction" approach with regard to the rollout of VMS technology in Queensland's waters, which could be implemented immediately, at minimal cost, as the system was already established.
"It's been 22 months since the boat sank," she said.
"That VMS could have been implemented, within weeks of that accident."
She said acting on the coroner's recommendations would help save lives at sea.
"Our six (fishers) would not have wanted their deaths to be in vain," she said.
"They were all positive go-getters, who wanted to bring about change for the better.
"We need something good to come out of something so tragic.
"This is for the greater good, for everyone at sea."
The bodies of Mr Bidner, Mr Tonks, Mr Feeney, and Mr Sammut, have never been found.
Police divers found the bodies of Mr Hoffman, and Mr Leahy, trapped inside the Dianne's sunken hull.
The vessel was recovered from the sea floor early last year.
Ms Bidner said the slug boat had since been dismantled, and she had been given a piece of it as a keepsake.
INDUSTRY SAFETY MEASURES CALLED FOR AFTER THE DIANNE TRAGEDY
Central coroner David O'Connell's report
■ That the industry be encouraged to place an emergency "grab bag" of necessary basic equipment to assist crew to exit a capsized vessel, and that grab bags be located in the sleeping cabin and near the helm.
■ That self-illuminating LED strip-lighting and emergency exit signs be encouraged to be installed in existing vessels within two years, and after two years, the authorities consider it being mandated in all commercial fishing vessels.
■ That industry be encouraged to secure, by restraining straps or being bolted down, all bulky items in a wheelhouse to ensure those items cannot move in a capsizing event.
■ That fishermen be encouraged to wear an inflatable style PFD (Personal Flotation Device) vest while working on the decks of a vessel or while at the helm and that these PFDs have a PLB (Personal Locator Beacon).
■ That regulatory authorities and industry investigate appropriate, workable, solutions to ensure doors on vessels are able to be opened against water pressure, while ensuring doors still retain their designed purposes.
■ That regulatory authorities and industry investigate and proceed towards ensuring all vessels have in their SMS (Safety Management Systems), a copy of the original plans of the vessel, details of all modifications which had been carried out, and stability test documentation.
■ That the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries immediately implement the sharing of the 'failure to poll' function of the VMS (Vessel Monitoring System) to allow the Queensland Police Service to be immediately notified by text (SMS) and email of any failure to poll by a vessel.