The Marine Casualty Investigations Board has warned of the dangers associated with pleasure activities like sailing and rowing.

It has urged all those involved in maritime activities, especially clubs, to audit their safety systems and have adequate route planning of their activities.

The warning comes in the MCIB's annual report for 2020 published today.

The MCIB commenced investigations into eight marine casualties in 2020. Four people lost their lives in three of those incidents involving fishing vessels.

Two men from Duncannon died on 4 January, 2020 when their fishing vessel the FV Alize sank near Hook Head off the Co Wexford coast.

Another man lost his life when his vessel The Mirror of Justice drifted onto rocks at Teelin Bay off the Donegal coast on August 26 2020.

And a man drowned after he fell overboard from the FV Myia when out retrieving shrimp pots in Galway Bay in November last year.

The Board has published 242 reports into incidents on our inland waterways and along our coast since being established 18 years ago.

The Chairperson of the MCIB, Claire Callanan, said the occurrence of so many incidents involving sailing, rowing, canoeing and kayaking in the last few years highlights the dangers associated with these activities.

This is a trend also reported by the marine casualty bodies of our European neighbours.

She said that safety in this sector is a particular concern with the increase in recreational and holiday activities arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The importance of adequate route planning and an understanding of the watercourse was stressed.

She said the MCIB strongly encourages all organisations- especially clubs and commercial entities associated with watersports or recreational activities - to audit their safety systems.

They should also have regard to the code of practice and all guidelines or recommendations issued by any governing sports bodies.