Backgrounder

Safety communications for TSB investigation (M15P0286) into the September 2015 capsizing and sinking of the fishing vessel Caledonian off the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Occurrence

On 05 September 2015, the fishing vessel Caledonian, a large, 100-foot fishing vessel with four crew members on board, capsized and sank 20 nautical miles off the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. One crew member was rescued and the bodies of the remaining three crew members were recovered.

TSB recommendations

The Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act specifically provides for the Board to make recommendations to address systemic safety deficiencies posing significant risks to the transportation system and, therefore, warranting the attention of regulators and industry. Under the Act, federal ministers must formally respond to TSB recommendations within 90 days and explain how they have addressed or will address the safety deficiencies.

RECOMMENDATIONS MADE ON 14 DECEMBER 2016

Stability information for large fishing vessels

The Canadian fishing vessel fleet includes about 145 vessels that are greater than 150 gross tonnage, like the Caledonian, which are regulated under the Large Fishing Vessel Inspection Regulations and are required to undergo stability assessments and have stability booklets produced. However, these regulations do not address the regular monitoring of vessel lightship weight and do not include standards or guidelines to ensure that vessel-specific stability information that is provided is adequate for use by fishermen. The Board therefore recommends that:

The Department of Transport establish standards for all new and existing large fishing vessels to ensure that the stability information is adequate and readily available to the crew.
TSB Recommendation M16-01
Stability information for small fishing vessels

Under the Small Fishing Vessel Inspection Regulations (SFVIR), a portion of small fishing vessels  have been required to undergo stability assessments and have stability booklets produced. However, the SFVIR do not address the regular monitoring of vessel lightship weight and do not include standards or guidelines to ensure that adequate vessel-specific stability information is provided for the use of fishermen.

In July 2016, in response to TSB Recommendation M94-33 and numerous others relating to fishing vessel stability, TC published, in the Canada Gazette, Part II, regulations to create new Fishing Vessel Safety Regulations (FVSR) and replace the SFVIR. However, these new regulations do not address the regular monitoring of vessel lightship weight or the provision of adequate stability information for small fishing vessels that had stability booklets produced under the old regulations. The Board therefore recommends that

The Department of Transport establish standards for all small fishing vessels that have had a stability assessment to ensure their stability information is adequate and readily available to the crew.
TSB Recommendation M16-02
Other small fishing vessels

The TSB believes that it will take focused and concerted action by federal and provincial government agencies and industry members to finally and fully address the safety deficiencies that persist in Canada's fishing industry. Once all small commercial fishing vessels have undergone stability assessments that are appropriate to their size and operations and fishermen have access to adequate stability information, the loss of life associated with inadequate fishing vessel stability will be substantially reduced. The Board therefore recommends that

The Department of Transport require that all small fishing vessels undergo a stability assessment and establish standards to ensure that the stability information is adequate and readily available to the crew.
TSB Recommendation M16-03
Use of personal flotation devices (PFD)

Despite risk-based regulations and industry initiatives to change behaviours and create awareness about the importance of wearing PFDs, as well as design improvements by PFD manufacturers to address fishermen's concerns about comfort and constant wear, there has not been a significant change in the behaviour of fishermen and many continue to work on deck without wearing a PFD.

The TSB believes that the implementation of explicit requirements for fishermen to wear PFDs, along with appropriate education and enforcement measures, will significantly reduce the loss of life associated with going overboard. The Board therefore recommends that

WorkSafeBC require persons to wear suitable personal flotation devices at all times when on the deck of a commercial fishing vessel or when on board a commercial fishing vessel without a deck or deck structure and that WorkSafeBC ensure programs are developed to confirm compliance.
TSB Recommendation M16-04
The Department of Transport require persons to wear suitable personal flotation devices at all times when on the deck of a commercial fishing vessel or when on board a commercial fishing vessel without a deck or deck structure and that the Department of Transport ensure programs are developed to confirm compliance.
TSB Recommendation M16-05