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Marine Transportation Safety Letter 01/22

08 February 2022

Director General, Marine Safety and Security
Transport Canada
Tower C, Place de Ville, 11th floor
330 Sparks Street
Ottawa ON KIA 0N5

Subject :

Marine Transportation Safety Letter 01/22 (occurrence M21P0290)
Safe speed for vessels in Tofino Harbour, British Columbia

On 18 October 2021, a float planeFootnote 1 and a water taxiFootnote 2 collided in the vicinity of the First Street dock in Tofino. The float plane had been making a water landing near the dock while a water taxi was also proceeding to the same dock. The aircraft nosed over and capsized, and the water taxi sustained minor damage. Three of the passengers on the aircraft and 1 passenger on the water taxi sustained minor injuries during the collision. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is investigating the occurrence through a coordinated effort between the Air and Marine modes (A21P0111/M21P0290).

In the course of the investigation, it was noted that there are no speed restrictions for vessels operating in Tofino Harbour, and that vessels have been observed to operate at speeds of up to 25 knots in the harbour area. It was also noted that a close quarters situation involving a float plane and a water taxi had occurred in the Tofino Harbour on 17 August 2020.Footnote 3

Proceeding at slower speeds provides operators time to assess and avoid hazards such as a collision or wake damage. This is especially important in confined or busy areas, including harbours. Sailing directions for the Pacific Coast caution mariners that the

[w]aters of Tofino are busy especially during the summer months. A mixture of traffic including kayaks, pleasure craft, whale watching vessels, tour boats, water taxis and seaplanes requires caution particularly when transiting the area from the Municipal Wharf (1st Street Dock) to the Tofino Small Craft Harbour, known as Fisherman’s Wharf or 4th Street Dock.Footnote 4

The Vessel Operation Restriction Regulations, which were established under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, allow local authorities to ask the federal government to restrict the use of either pleasure craft or commercial vessels on bodies of water in Canada. TP 14350E A Local Authorities Guide provides guidance for addressing concerns related to vessel operation and a process for local authorities to submit a formal request for a vessel operation restriction. The ongoing investigation has identified that although this process exists, local authorities may not be aware of it, as was the case in this occurrence, and concerns related to vessel operation may therefore go unaddressed.

The foregoing is provided for whatever follow-up action is deemed appropriate. The TSB would appreciate being advised of any action that is taken in this regard. Upon completion of this investigation, the Board will release its report into this occurrence.

Yours sincerely,

Original signed by

Clifford Harvey

Director, Investigations - Marine
Transportation Safety Board of Canada