Calling for focused and concerted action in all regions to reduce an unacceptable death toll, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has released the results of a comprehensive three-year investigation into fishing safety in Canada.
The report identifies 10 key issues where immediate action is required, and breaks new ground in understanding how they interact.
“It may seem counter-intuitive,” said lead TSB investigator Glenn Budden, “but when it comes to solutions, addressing these issues one-by-one doesn't work. Stability, training, resource management, safe work practices – they're all interdependent, and any solutions need to be that way too.”
Several collaborative initiatives already exist in different regions of the country. Some of the groups singled out for praise include the Nova Scotia's Fishery Safety Association, the Fish Safe BC, Quebec's Standing Committee on Fishing Vessel Safety and the proposed Newfoundland and Labrador Fish Harvesters Safety Association.
“That's a great start,” said Budden, “but other regional fishing communities need to follow suit. The key is cooperation, because no single group or government can fully address all the challenges.”
The TSB began its investigation in 2009 to find out why the fishing industry was averaging nearly one death a month, year after year.
"Hundreds of marine accidents are reported to the TSB every year, but it's those involving fishing vessels where we see the most fatalities,” Budden said. “We need to do more to solve these problems, so that Canada's fishermen make it safely home to port.”
In addition to the report, the TSB has posted a video on YouTube on fishing safety, as well as a booklet summarizing the report's key themes.
The 10 critical safety issues identified by the TSB are as follows:
1. Stability: Fishermen need to understand and apply the principles of stability and apply them to fishing operations.
2. Fisheries resource management: Identifying and reducing safety risks should become an integral part of fisheries resource management.
3. Lifesaving appliances: Lifesaving appliances should be properly designed, carried, fitted, used, and maintained for fishing operations.
4. Regulatory approach to safety: A regulatory framework should be coordinated and consistently applied, and needs to support a safety culture in the community.
5. Training: Training needs to be effective and be reinforced by regular practice.
6. Safety information: Practical, understandable safety information should reach those in the fishing community who need it.
7. Cost of safety: The fishing community needs to accept the cost of safety as an integral part of fishing.
8. Fatigue: The risks of fatigue must be understood and managed.
9. Fishing industry statistics: Accident data needs to be collected, analyzed, and communicated in a coordinated way to help the fishing community.
10. Work practices: Safe work practices need to become routine.
(The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.)