Safety warnings have been issued to Westcountry fishermen returning to sea after being kept in port for weeks by severe storms.
Some fishermen are thought to have lost thousands of pounds worth of pots as massive waves swept though fishing grounds in Devon and Cornwall.
There are also concerns some may take undue risks while trying to recover lost earnings having been tied up for days on end.
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has now warned potters of the dangers of recovering their gear in light of previous fatal accidents.
Steve Clinch, chief inspector of marine accidents, said carrying too many strings of pots at one time could lead to boats capsizing or foundering while cluttered decks when attempting to shoot additional creels risked fishermen being injured or pulled overboard.
“As you set about retrieving gear displaced or damaged by the recent storms, please carefully think about the lessons learned from such accidents,” he said in a special safety bulletin.
“When moving or recovering pots, resist the temptation to take on board more strings than normal unless you can be absolutely confident that this can be done without compromising the stability of your boat.
“When shooting, ensure you and your crew are standing in a safe area, to avoid the chance that someone could be taken overboard by running gear.
“Plan for the worst outcome – make sure there are knives placed around the working area so that lines can be quickly cut should this be necessary.
“Always wear a personal flotation device when working on the open deck and make sure you have a plan, and have drilled your crew, on how you would recover someone from the water.
“You owe it to your loved ones and family to come home safely from every fishing trip.”