Accidents do not just happen at sea

By Dr Chris Ware

 isle of white collapse isle of white deck

A sultry evening in July and a routine crossing from Portsmouth to Fishbourne, on the Isle of Wight, should both literally as well as figuratively, be ‘plain sailing’. At 22-30 the St Helen was unloading at Fishbourne , in the same way as she had over the past 24 years, the mezzanine car deck dropped approximately 8 feet twisting as it did. Three passengers and one member of the crew were injured. However what it highlights once again is that something as straightforward as a crossing of the Solent is not that at all, it is four miles of open water with a major shipping lane running East-West and subject to  short steep seas which can be brought about by the prevailing winds.

However it was none of these which caused the accident on the 18th July.  What precisely did happened is not clear from the published reports the deck was part way down then it dropped, for those in their cars a frightening experience, for the crew at the forwarded end of the ramp terrifying. Was this mechanical failure, or human error? The Marine Accident Investigation will, it is to be hoped get to the bottom of this. It is a timely reminder that ferries work in a dynamic environment and are subject to stress and strains, which the passengers, as they sample the delights of the lounge, be that coffee, tea, or something stronger do not necessarily, appreciate. A Ferry is a complex system where everything needs to work as planned be it human or mechanical.

An Isle of Wight ferry arriving at Fishbourne

Is there shark in our fish and chips? Shocking discovery on the Isle Of White

Fish and chip shops have been told to check their stock for shark meat after the gruesome discovery of scores of carcasses on the Isle of Wight.

A resident of the island was left horrified after stumbling across a mound of severed heads and fins of smooth-hound sharks, which are completely harmless to humans.

After a picture of his shocking find appeared on Facebook, government officials have urged chip shops to ensure they know what they are selling.

shark pictures

Shark meat is often used in pet food and fish meal but can also be passed off as huss or rock salmon, which are sold in takeaways around Britain.

It is thought an unlicensed trawler may have landed the sharks, before their valueless heads and fins were cut off, leaving only the meat.

Kevin Parker, who found the remains of what he estimates at more than 50 of the animals, said local residents had been shocked by what had been found.

The Food Standards Agency, which monitors the quality of food in restaurants and shops, has since issued guidance to anyone selling fish.

A spokesman said: ‘Fish must be what it claims to be on the label or the menu and food businesses must make sure they buy their fish from reputable sources.’

Conservationists are also concerned because the smooth-hound species has been classified as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Richard Peirce, chairman of the Shark Trust, warned that fishing for sharks is becoming increasingly common in British waters.

After viewing a photo of the latest find, he said: ‘I’m always disappointed at the waste of vulnerable or endangered species.’

He called for limits on how many sharks fisherman can land in a bid to stop the rising numbers being caught.

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