Frustrated fishermen walk out of meeting with Transport Canada

Members of fishing organizations from the Atlantic provinces walked out of a meeting with Transport Canada on Thursday, saying they are frustrated with the way new regulations of their industry are being implemented.

Fishermen say they need more time, clarity on new safety regulations coming in July

Transport Canada's new Fishing Vessel Safety Regulations will come into force in July. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Fishermen from the Atlantic provinces walked out of a meeting with Transport Canada on Thursday, saying they are frustrated with the way new safety regulations for their industry are being implemented.

Ian MacPherson, general manager of the PEI Fishermen's Association, says for more than a year, fishermen have been requesting a comprehensive and timely plan to help the commercial fishing industry comply with the new Fishing Vessel Safety Regulations that will take effect in July.

"There was a lot of frustration that this program is going to be rolled out with a lot of questions unanswered," MacPherson said.

Representatives from 15 fishing organizations, representing more than 20,000 fish harvesters, were hoping to get some of those answers at the meeting Thursday in Halifax.

The new regulations include required safety equipment on all boats, including life rafts, survival suits and a location signaling device. MacPherson estimated this equipment will cost between $3,000 and $6,000, and said fishermen are asking for more time to implement it.

"Because of the significant cost we were wondering if some of the equipment could be brought in in a staged process and basically none of that's been accepted or listened to," MacPherson said.

The regulations also include standard operating procedures fishermen are expected to take when there's an emergency, as well as vessel stability testing.

"We support the intent of these changes, we're just a little concerned that there's a lot of grey area around how they're going to be interpreted," MacPherson said.

CBC has asked Transport Canada for comment but has not yet received a response.

With files from Laura Chapin