RICHMOND, BC, May 3, 2012 /CNW/ - Gina McKay, Program Manager for the Fish SAFE program in British Columbia was presented with Transport Canada's 2012 Marine Safety Award at the Spring National Meeting of the Canadian Marine Advisory Committee (CMAC) on April 23, 2012 in Ottawa, Ontario.
The Transport Canada Marine Safety Award was established to stimulate an awareness of marine safety in Canada and to recognize persons, groups, companies, organizations, agencies or departments that have contributed, in an exceptional way, to this objective. The contribution to marine safety must fall within at least one of the following categories:
- An unusually high level of performance in the interests of Canadian marine safety over an extended period of time (3 years or longer);
- The successful completion of a program or research project which has had a significant impact on Canadian marine safety;
- A single act or effort which is so outstanding that it warrants recognition, e.g. exceptional contribution of expertise, time, skills, facilities, etc.
Donald Roussel, Director General of Transport Canada Marine Safety, presented the award to Ms. McKay in the opening plenary of the Canadian Marine Advisory Council attended by over 500 industry members, commending her on her hard work, passion and dedication to fishing safety. The Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, acknowledged Ms. McKay's exceptionally high level of performance in the interest of Canadian marine safety and the successful development and implementation of both the Fishing Stability Education program and the Safest Catch program.
Ms. McKay has been the driving force behind the internationally acclaimed Fish SAFE program since 2004. She is recognized by the industry as the energy and vision behind the development of this industry-driven program that features fishermen trained as safety advisors to mentor their peers in the development of safety programs on board fishing vessels.
As a third generation fisherman from Prince Rupert, BC, she knows all too well the devastation a fishing accident can have on families as she lost her father, uncle and their four crew men in the capsizing of their seiner, the Bravado, in 1975.
When accepting the award Ms. McKay explained to the attendees that the west coast fishing industry has worked hard over the last eight years to take ownership of safety. She thanked both those who have supported her and those who have challenged her resulting in a clear and focussed mandate to develop programs and tools designed to assist fishermen to come home safely.
Ms. McKay also spoke to the attendees about the need to recognize and support industry-driven programs such as Fish SAFE and thanked members of regulatory agencies that realize the benefits of working collaboratively to really make a difference.
Former Director of Marine Safety for Transport Canada, Victor Santos-Pedro summed up Ms. McKay's ability to make a difference by stating, "Without doubt, Gina's most significant and enduring achievement is embracing the concept of "ownership" for on board safety. She's uniquely qualified to impart a powerful message that does make a difference in how fishermen act and react to risk on their vessel, and contributes enormously to the continuous improvement of the safety culture."
Chris Cue, Manager of Fleet Operations for Canadian Fishing Company, the largest fishing company in BC, described the reason behind the change in the fishing industry through the success of the Fish SAFE program by saying of Ms. McKay, "Your inspiration has been the driver within our industry to reach the hardened and to move them to higher level of safety, I for one never thought possible."
Fish SAFE is the commercial fishing industry-driven safety program of the BC Seafood Alliance. This program and the tools it provides to the BC commercial fishing industry are designed by fishermen for fishermen with the goal of promoting ownership of safety on board fishing vessels in the quest for all to "Come Home Safely".
Among the many programs and tools offered by Fish SAFE, the Stability Education and Safest Catch programs are the most acclaimed. To date over 900 commercial fishermen have voluntarily participated in the Stability Education program and in just two years 291 vessels and over 1,000 fishermen from all over the BC coast are involved in the Safest Catch program.
For more information on Fish SAFE visit www.fishsafebc.com.
For further information:
Christina Burridge, Executive Director
BC Seafood Alliance