Joshua Aryeetey was carried overboard by a net while working on the trawler Beryl about 20 miles west of the Shetland Islands on February 10 this year.
The 37-year-old Ghanaian was conscious, wearing a lifejacket and was quickly brought alongside the vessel but attempts by the five other crew men to get him onboard in rough seas were unsuccessful.
Mr Aryeetey spent about 50 minutes in the water and was unresponsive when he was eventually pulled onto a rescue craft launched from a nearby offshore support vessel.
He was then transferred to the Stornoway Coastguard helicopter, which was training in the area, and flown to Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick where he was pronounced dead.
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) said the accident happened because Mr Aryeetey was standing in an unsafe position on top of the net as he tried to release a float snagging it to a track.
The official report also found that the Beryl’s crew had not completed a practical “manoverboard” drill during their time on board and they were unfamiliar with the manoverboard recovery system carried.
A safety flyer has been issued to the industry detailing the accident and recommendations have been made to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and a number of fishing federations to ensure fishermen conduct practical emergency drills.
A recommendation has also been made to Beryl’s owner, JCJM, to improve the overall safety of its crews and their ability to respond to emergencies.
MAIB said it is the latest in a series of accidents where crews have been unable to recover workers who have fallen overboard.
The crew of the Beryl was made up of two UK nationals, two Ghanaians, a Filipino and a Latvian, all of whom had completed the mandatory training required to serve on a UK registered vessel.
The foreign workers had been employed by the vessel’s owners for several years and the boat had sailed from Scalloway, Shetland on February 6.
Mr Aryeetey was described as “an experienced and well-respected deckhand” and had worked on the Beryl for two years when the accident happened. He was due to leave the vessel in March 2015.
The MAIB report said: “The accident occurred because the crewman was standing in an unsafe position.
“It is one of a number of recent accidents in which fishermen have died after falling or being carried or swept overboard while trawling when the vessels’ crews have been unable to recover them back on board. In this case, Beryl’s crew had not completed a practical manoverboard drill during their time on board and they were unfamiliar with the manoverboard recovery system carried.
“Recommendations have been made to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Scottish Fishermen’s Federation, National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations and the Sea Fish Industry Authority.
“The recommendations are intended to improve the likelihood of recovering persons from the water by ensuring that the recovery systems carried by fishing vessels are suitable and that sufficient and realistic manoverboard drills are carried out on board.”