OHS Canada Magazine

Ottawa accepts call for tighter fishing boat inspections in aftermath of N.S. sinking

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July 7, 2023
By The Canadian Press

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Transport Canada says it will tighten inspections of fishing vessels in the aftermath of a 2020 sinking that resulted in six deaths off Nova Scotia’s southwestern coast.

A March 22 report by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada concluded that the dragger Chief William Saulis capsized because 2,700 kilograms of unshelled scallops blocked the drainage system as high seas crashed into the boat.

It recommended that Transport Canada inspectors verify whether required, written safety procedures are available to crew, such as methods to store catch in a way that doesn’t block drainage.

A department spokeswoman confirmed on Thursday that Ottawa will implement this recommendation, though details haven’t been released.

Safety expert Marc-Andre Poisson, a former head of marine investigations at the board, says the federal government’s decision to have inspectors verify safety procedures is a step forward.


But he says Ottawa must mandate that boats are tested for stability, which would give crews precise information and training on how to load a vessel so that it remains stable in rough seas.

The board noted in its March 22 report that the Chief William Saulis should have undergone a stability assessment because its owners had modified the boat by adding a plate to the stern and covers to drainage holes.


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