Safety Issues Investigation: Fishing Safety
 in Canada

Presentation to the Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters

John Clarkson
Board Member
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Montreal, Quebec
11 July 2012

See the PowerPoint presentation

Check against delivery.


In 2009, the TSB launched an investigation into fishing safety in order to:

  • gain a better understanding of all the factors involved in fishing safety;
  • determine why the same kind of accidents keep happening;
  • determine why the likelihood of someone dying today is the same as 20 years ago.

Report findings

  • Identifies 10 areas for improvement.
  • Determines that safety issues are interconnected.
  • Calls for focused and concerted efforts.
  • Demonstrates a need for regional governance structures to foster a safety culture.

10 Key safety issues

The TSB's Safety Issues Investigation identified 10 issues where safety action is required to achieve the goal:

  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.

What's more, we found there is a complicated interconnected relationship between the issues. It may seem counter-intuitive, but when it comes to solutions, singling them out, and addressing them one-by-one, doesn't work. It's been tried. These issues are interdependent, and any solutions need to be that way, too. In other words, the whole fishing community has a role to play.

This will require concerted, coordinated action. Federal and provincial governments must work with leaders in the fishing community to establish regional governance structures aimed at ensuring that fishermen can and will work safely.

Interdependence of issues

Addressing these issues one-by-one doesn’t work. Solutions need to be coordinated.

For example, the unsafe condition of unsecured deck openings is linked to stability, which is in turn linked to at least four other safety issues: training, work practices, cost of safety, and regulatory approach to safety.

Regional initiatives

We found strong collaborative regional initiatives but think other fishing communities need to follow suit.

Working together

We can build relationships, share our knowledge, pool our resources, work together – and save lives.

Safety action required

Fishing community needs to:

  • recognize the interconnected nature of safety issues;
  • co-ordinate solutions to issues;
  • create regional governance structures;
  • promote safe work practices as routine;
  • foster a safety culture.

How can you help?

TSB is planning a cross-country outreach campaign – invite us to speak at association meetings such as this one.

Promote Fishing Safety Booklet and Video within your membership.

More ideas on how to work together to spread the word on safety messages?