New Brunswick

Scallop fishermen's family urge investigation

The family of two fishermen lost in the Bay of Fundy in February say federal officials are dragging their heels in the investigation into their deaths.

Second boat loss compels family to speak out

Tricia Greene, Corey Cossaboom's sister, said the family still doesn't know what happened to her brother's fishing vessel. ((CBC))
Family members of two fishermen lost in the Bay of Fundy in February say federal officials are dragging their heels in the investigation into their deaths.

Cousins Harold Cossaboom, 45, and Corey Cossaboom, 36, both from White Head Island, N.B., were scallop fishermen aboard the vessel Whole Family. It's believed the boat capsized in the waters between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia so suddenly there was no time to send a distress signal.

"He was only 36 years old, he was going to be married in July," Tricia Greene, Corey Cossaboom's sister, told reporters on Thursday. "We don't know what happened."

Greene said her family was told by federal officials that a ship would be dispatched to inspect wreckage from the Whole Family six months ago.

As far as she knows, that never happened.

"It's hard to reason. I've sat and looked at pictures, I've looked at the Whole Family's pictures," said Greene.

"Did this happen? Did that happen? Is that what happened to the other boat? Thousands and thousands of questions."

Greene said the sinking of a Nova Scotia scallop dragger a few weeks ago compelled her to speak out.

The RLJ, carrying Corey Leblanc, Anthony Orde, Bryden Orde and Lee White on board, is also believed to have sunk in the Bay of Fundy. The four men are presumed dead.

The scallop dragger RLJ, which was based in Digby, N.S., is believed to have sunk with four men on board. ((Courtesy of nsboats))
When Greene heard about the RLJ, she said her family knew they needed to urge quicker investigations by federal officials into what happened to the vessels.

'There's a double standard'

"That brought it all back. It was as if we were living through it all over again," Greene said.

Mark Greene, Corey Cossaboom's brother-in-law, said he is concerned federal agencies do not want to spend the money needed to carry out investigations.

"It was very insulting," he said. "Two weeks after the accident I would say, to call the family up and tell me they're not going to do nothing because it's going to cost taxpayers too much money."

The family argues that six deaths in any other industry would prompt more scrutiny.

"There's a double standard," said Bob Davidson, a family friend.

"Fishermen are not as important in the eyes of the federal government as workers on land, obviously. I guess that's the message being sent here."

Paul Murray, a spokesman for the Transportation Safety Board, which has taken over the investigations said the board has an open file on both incidents.

Murray said TSB staff have probed February's shipwreck site, but currents and the depth of the water made the work too dangerous to pursue. A review on fishing boat safety is pending.