TSB Investigates Persistent Risks to Fishermen on Small Fishing Vessels

    GATINEAU, QC, Aug. 20 /CNW Telbec/ - Citing an "unacceptable" loss of
life, the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) today launched an in-depth
investigation into the safety of small fishing vessels across Canada.
    "The grim reality is that the fishing industry is averaging one death per
month," said Marcel Ayeko, TSB's Director of Marine Investigations. "Sixty
people have died in accidents over the past five years, and we need to find
out why."
    As an independent government agency, the TSB conducts dozens of full
investigations into marine accidents every year. These result in public
reports that contain a host of conclusions, concerns, and safety
recommendations, but Mr. Ayeko said the problem is bigger than any one event.
This study, he added, is expected to be the first to provide an overall view
of the situation across the country. "We'll talk to everyone: vessel owners
and operators, fishing associations, government, unions, and - above all - the
    "We already know there are systemic issues," he said, noting that small
fishing vessels have the highest rate of marine accidents in Canada. With over
200 incidents reported to the TSB annually, "these issues need to be formally
identified - to the regulators, the industry, and the fishermen themselves -
so that we can improve safety and reverse this tragic trend."
    The study will also look at the risks and challenges experienced by
members of the fishing community when they set out for a day's work and will
be released to the public and industry stakeholders when completed. To help
with this, historical data and case studies of selected accidents in Canada
will be analyzed, as will occurrences from other nations, including the United
States, the United Kingdom and several Nordic countries. "The further in-depth
we go," said Mr. Ayeko, "the more solid facts we'll uncover to help make the
fishing industry safer."
    Since 1992, the TSB has made 42 recommendations aimed at improving
fishing vessel safety, and it has repeatedly drawn attention to critical
safety issues that contribute to accidents. These include vessel stability,
structural integrity, unsafe operating procedures, the use of lifesaving
equipment, and the impact of fishery resource management plans and practices
on the overall safety of fishing vessels.
    "Sure, fishing can sometimes be risky," acknowledged Mr. Ayeko.
"Canadians know this; they've been doing it for generations. But more needs to
be done - and more can be done - to bring down the accident rate."
    The ultimate goal? "It's simple," he said. "Improve safety for all the
workers who earn their living from the sea."

    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.

For further information:

For further information: To arrange a telephone interview with the
following members of the investigation team: Mr. Brian Lewis, Investigator in
Charge (English); Mr. Bernard Breton, investigation team member (French),
Call: Transportation Safety Board of Canada, Media Relations, Telephone: (819)
994-8053. This news release and all previously published reports about fishing
vessel safety can be found on the TSB website at www.bst-tsb.gc.ca.

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