Crew Members on small commercial vessels granted more time for safety training



    OTTAWA, March 27 /CNW Telbec/ - The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister
of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, today announced a one-year grace
period for fish harvesters and sealers to complete mandatory training in the
principles of basic safety at sea.
    As a result, Transport Canada will not take enforcement action if a crew
member can show proof of registration in a Marine Emergency Duties (MED)
training course before April 1, 2008. The training focuses on emergency
response to first aid, fire and abandon ship situations. While most fish
harvesters have completed this training, the industry requested that Transport
Canada consider an extension for those who have not yet taken the course.
    "These training requirements have been put in place to improve safety
aboard small commercial vessels and Transport Canada fully expects crew
members to register in a course as soon as possible," said Minister Cannon.
"However, Transport Canada also recognizes that time away from fishing may
translate directly into lost income, which is why we're willing to grant an
enforcement grace period of one year."
    In 1997, Transport Canada amended the Crewing Regulations of the Canada
Shipping Act to make MED courses mandatory for crew members of small vessels
by July 30, 2000. In recognition of the scope of implementation, Transport
Canada initially postponed this requirement to July 2002, then, in response to
concerns expressed by fish harvesters and training institutions in meeting
this deadline, Transport Canada further extended the deadline to April 1,
2007.
    These requirements apply to all operators of small commercial vessels
including fish harvesters and sealers. It is the responsibility of the
owner/master to comply with all regulatory requirements, including the
qualifications of all those on board that are part of the crew. MED courses
are the most basic safety training, and are readily available for people
working on fishing vessels.
    Transport Canada has issued a Ship Safety Bulletin communicating the
extension to small commercial vessel owners. It can be found at www.tc.gc.ca.

    A backgrounder on MED training is attached.

    

                                 Backgrounder
                                 ------------

             MARINE EMERGENCY DUTIES TRAINING FOR FISH HARVESTERS
             ----------------------------------------------------

    Marine Emergency Duties (MED) courses train seafarers in the principles of
basic safety at sea such as emergency response to first aid, fire, and abandon
ship situations. Mandatory MED training for crew members on board fishing
vessels has been put in place to help create a higher level of safety
awareness within the fishing community, and to help reduce the number of
fatalities. Many accidents that result in injuries or loss of life occurring
on small fishing vessels are preventable. Being prepared and properly trained
can save lives.
    In 1997, Transport Canada amended the Crewing Regulations of the Canada
Shipping Act to make MED courses mandatory for fish harvesters and sealers by
July 30, 2000. In recognition of the scope of implementation, Transport Canada
initially postponed this requirement to July 2002. In light of concerns
expressed by fish harvesters and training institutions in meeting this
deadline, Transport Canada further extended the deadline for completing MED
training to April 1, 2007. In effect, fishermen have now had 10 years to take
the training.
    While most have completed the training, Transport Canada has agreed to
grant an extension to those who have not yet taken the course. All crew
members on board small commercial vessels, including small fishing vessels,
are required to be registered in a MED course by April 1, 2008.
    MED training has been required on large commercial vessels since the late
1970's. This training requirement was extended to all small commercial
vessels, including small fishing vessels, in 1997, following findings by the
Transportation Safety Board that most marine accidents resulting in loss of
life occur on small fishing vessels. After April 1, 2008, should Transport
Canada become aware that crewmembers on board a vessel do not have the
appropriate training, the Master will be notified.
    The Master of a vessel is responsible for complying with all applicable
safety standards and regulations when operating his/her vessel. This includes
making sure that all crewmembers on board have taken the required MED
training. Masters will also be advised that sailing with crewmembers that have
not taken the required MED training contravenes the Crewing Regulations of the
Canada Shipping Act and that this could result in enforcement action.

    Types of Marine Emergency Duties courses
    ----------------------------------------

    Commercial fishers must complete one of three available MED courses - MED
A-1, MED A-3 or MED A-4 - or hold a Pleasure Craft Operator Competency Card,
depending on the operations of the vessel on which they work.

    The MED A-1 course is the standard course. It consists of 19.5 hours of
instruction that provide crew members with:
    - basic understanding of the hazards associated with the marine
      environment and their own vessels;
    - training on the prevention of shipboard incidents including fires;
    - knowledge necessary to raise and react to alarms and emergencies;
    - information on how to provide assistance in fire and abandonment
      emergency situations; and
    - knowledge and skills to assist in their own survival and rescue.

    The MED A-3 and the MED A-4 courses also provide basic safety at sea
awareness training, but are tailored specifically for crew members of smaller
vessels and for the environment of near-shore operations.

    The MED A-3 was developed specifically for crew members on vessels
operating no more than 25 miles from shore. It consists of 8 hours of
instruction.

    The MED A-4 was developed for vessels operating no more than 2 miles from
shore and also consists of 8 hours of instruction.

                                                                   March 2007
    




For further information:

For further information: Natalie Sarafian, Press Secretary, Office of
the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Ottawa, (613)
991-0700; Kirsten Goodnough, Communications, Transport Canada, Ottawa, (613)
993-0055; Transport Canada is online at www.tc.gc.ca. Subscribe to news
releases and speeches at www.tc.gc.ca/listserv/ and keep up-to-date on the
latest from Transport Canada; This news release may be made available in
alternative formats for persons with visual disabilities.


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