TSB blames failure to wear lifejackets for fishing boat fatalities
3 men died when the Caledonian capsized near Tofino in 2015. Only a 4th man who was wearing a PFD survived.
Regulators need to make sure crew of all commercial fishing boats are wearing life jackets while on deck, according to the chair of Canada's Transportation Safety Board.
The recommendation comes after an investigation into the September 2015 sinking of the Caledonian, a fishing boat which capsized near Tofino, killing three crew members.
The lone survivor, who was new to the industry, was the only one of the crew wearing a life jacket, or personal floation device (PFD).
TSB chairperson Kathy Fox told a news conference that an average of 10 fishermen die at sea in Canada each year.
"These deaths are nearly all preventable," she said, adding that 70 per cent of fishing fatalities in British Columbia occur when workers are not wearing PFDs.
The rules currently say commercial crews have to wear PFDs when risk is identified, but Fox said that's not acceptable.
"You never know when you could end up in the water," she said. "Let's be clear, all fishermen should be wearing a PFD. It's that simple."
Stability assessment outdated
The recommendation around PFDs is one of several which arose from the investigation into the Caledonian tragedy.
Investigators say the incident occurred as the crew was stowing the last catch of the day. The boat listed to port side as a first load of hake was brought on board.
When a second larger load was added, the port list increased, causing the boat to capsize within a couple of minutes.
No distress calls or emergency signals were ever activated. The boat sank six hours later.
The investigation showed that onboard operating practices for consuming water and loading fish differed from those in the boat's approved stability booklet.
The investigation found the Caledonian had a stability assessment prepared in 1976, but the information in the booklet was outdated.
When it capsized in 2015 the Caledonian was 50 tons heavier than in 1976 due the addition and accumulation of gear.
As part of its recommendations, the TSB is calling for all commercial fishing vessels to undergo stability assessments.
The board also said the information in the assessments should be presented in an accessible, easily understood format.
Skipper Wesley Hagglund, aged 55, Keith Standing, 48, and Doug White, 41, perished in the accident which happened 55 kilometres west of Estevan Point off the west coast of Vancouver Island.