Locator beacons can be difference 'between life and death'

A researcher in offshore safety is encouraging fishermen to consider wearing personal locator beacons while cautioning they do have limitations.

Researcher in offshore safety encouraging fishermen to consider wearing personal locator beacons

The personal tracking device can be attached to clothing and emits a signal that bounces off a satellite and sends a message to the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Center in Halifax. (CBC)

A researcher in offshore safety is encouraging fishermen to consider wearing personal locator beacons while cautioning they do have limitations. 

Robert Brown, with the Marine Institute at Memorial University, says a PLB could save a fisherman's life, in the event an emergency. 

"If the beacon is working properly and some sort of listening device is receiving the signal, then the beacon could mean the difference between life and death. It could give searchers a direction in which they can look for a person who may have ended up in the water," he said.

The devices work by transmitting radio waves. Brown said they do not work well when submerged in water:

"This is obviously a big issue for marine situations. If the beacon is underwater, its transmission is cut down to next to nothing," he said.
 
Della Sears, the mother of a fishing captain who died at sea, is calling on fishermen to consider wearing PLBs.

Her son Katlin Nickerson and his four crewmates perished on the Miss Ally. 

The vessel ran into a storm on Feb. 17, 2013, five days after leaving a wharf on Cape Sable Island in southwestern Nova Scotia to fish for halibut. The boat capsized after being slammed by a wall of water nearly 20 metres high.

Despite an exhaustive search, the bodies of the five crew members were never recovered.

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