The finding of an inquest into a death at sea by the Coroners Court of South Australia was reported in the Weekend Australian of 10-11 August 2013.


On 17 February 2011, abalone diver Peter Clarkson was diving from a boat operated by skipper Howard Rodd. While diving, we was taken by two great white sharks.

After Mr Clarkson was taken, Mr Rodd claimed to have circled the area in the boat for a time before returning to shore. He did not alert authorities immediately, did not drop a buoy to mark Mr Clarkson’s last position, did not radio for help, did not use flares to attract other boats, or stay in the area until help came.


Coroner Johns described Mr Rodd as incompetent and noted that had he acted promptly at least four hours of daylight would have been available to undertake rescue measures.

The Coroner found that Mr Rodd had failed to “act in the way best calculated to ensure that a proper search could be mounted”.


Practitioners may find this case useful in arguments as to the standards of care applying to masters of fishing boats.