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Preventing Fishing Vessel Tragedies


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Title: Preventing Fishing Vessel Tragedies

Transport Canada Transports Canada Marine Safety
Sécurité maritime
  • Preventing Fishing Vessel Tragedies

A Personal Perspective Kevin Monahan
Fishing is a Unique Activity
  • Economically unpredictable
  • Often conducted in poor weather remote
  • Suspended weights
  • Loading vessel at sea
  • Extremely variable freeboard
  • Large loads in relation to vessel tonnage
  • Fatigue--continuous activity
  • Water on deck
  • Liquid or semi-liquid cargoes
  • Nets and gear can hamper manoeuvrability
  • Individuals and communities depend on the

Stability factors change more often and more
rapidly during fishing operations than in any
other type of marine activity.
K. Monahan photo
  • Transportation Safety Board
  • From 1994 to 2003, 172 fishing fatalities in
  • 35 (60) from accidents on board ship
  • 65 (112) were a result of shipping accidents
  • BC 37
  • Central 9
  • Laurentian 13
  • Maritimes 22
  • Newfoundland and Labrador 23
  • Arctic 8
  • Total 112
  • Even though the fishing fleet has been shrinking
    the accident rate remains largely unchanged.
  • major cause is falling overboard

  • BC Workers Compensation Board Statistics
  • 88 of fishing fatalities are drowning or lost
    at sea
  • About 50 of these result from vessels sinking or
  • 1997-- 1 7238
  • 2001-- 1 1425
  • 2004-- 1 1214
  • (Fatality rate across all industries in BC is
  • 1 for every 10,000-12,000 person years)

Canadian Coast Guard
From 1975 to 2003, 152 fishing vessels
capsized in British Columbia--61 lives lost
Other Provinces have similar statistics
  • Coroners Recommendations
  • Inspection should include stability testing
    (inclining experiment and stability booklet)
  • Stability testing should apply to all small
    fishing vessels
  • Fishing vessel stability taught in a manner
    understandable to fishermen
  • Safe maximum load line on
  • every fishing vessel
  • Major modifications
  • should be documented
  • and reported
  • Modifications log to be
  • kept with the vessel
  • for life

Canadian Coast Guard
  • Transportation Safety Board recommendations
  • Emergency drills
  • Carriage of liferafts
  • Immersion suits
  • EPIRBs
  • Stability testing
  • Watertight integrity
  • Minimum freeboard
  • Reporting of alterations
  • Water-level alarms
  • Marine Emergency Duties training

Canadian Coast Guard
Major Issues
Unqualified crew members with inadequate
watchkeeping abilities have contributed at least
in part, to between 45 and 50 per cent of all
collisions, groundings and strikings involving
fishing vessels in Canadian waters. (TSB)
When fishing is good, fishers want to get as much
product on board as possible, these conditions
may never happen again.
  • Preventing a capsize or sinking
  • watertight integrity (TSB Marine Safety Advisory)
  • operator awareness of stability issues (training)
  • notification of major alterations
  • stability testing
  • minimum freeboard
  • overloading
  • navigation /
  • collision avoidance
  • structural / weather
  • damage
  • Paragraph boats

Some fishing vessels have been constructed to fit
within arbitrary limitations, at the expense of
Workers Compensation Board of BC
Major Issues (continued)
  • Surviving a capsizing or sinking
  • liferafts, immersion suits, EPIRBs
  • knowledge of lifesaving equipment and survival
  • techniques (training)
  • safety drills
  • maintenance of lifesaving
  • equipment
  • knowledge of the effects of
  • cold shock and hypothermia
  • and the techniques of cold
  • water survival
  • re-boarding devices

courtesy of CBC
Fishers Beliefs and Attitudes
  • Fishing is a risky business
  • Every fisher has lost friends and co-workers
  • Every fisher has experienced a close call
  • Most fishers believe their operation is as safe
    as can reasonably be expected
  • Reducing fish stocks and loss of profitability
  • less money available for safety
  • crew are harder to get--training requirements are
  • Fishers have accepted the risks inherent in
  • Government safety standards are simply too
    expensive and threaten their way of life

Public Attitudes
  • Families, spouses, dependents and survivors of
    lost fishers have made it clear that the current
    situation is no longer acceptable.
  • Solutions must balance
  • the safety of fishers
  • and the economic
  • viability of the industry.

Transport Canada photo
  • What do fishers value in a deckhand?
  • Qualities I was encouraged to develop
  • endurance, resistance to fatigue
  • physical strength
  • knowledge of fishing techniques
  • mechanical (haywire) capability
  • ability to get along in close quarters
  • cooking skills
  • watch-keeping knowledge

H Siegel photo
  • Where did this leave safety consciousness,
    knowledge of lifesaving equipment and techniques
    and awareness of stability issues????

Attitudes--a Personal Perspective
  • BC Herring Fishery 1975--14 dead
  • First wheel watch--everyone else went to sleep--I
    had never seen a radar before!!!
  • No emergency drills
  • No emergency training
  • No immersion suits
  • No familiarization with radar
  • Poor understanding of Rules of the Road

Time-Life photo
  • No awareness of stability issues or free surface

  • As a young fisherman, I believed that if the deck
    was well protected against down-flooding, and
    there was some buoyancy aft, freeboard wasnt
  • Lets examine the ways in which my understanding
    was flawed.

K. Darwin photo
Stability and Freeboard
Center of Gravity -The mass (weight) of the
vessel acts downwards through this point. -A low
center of gravity makes a stable boat.
As long as the Center of Gravity and the Center
of Buoyancy are balanced, the vessel is stable.
Center of Buoyancy -The geometric center of the
underwater volume of the vessel. -The vessels
buoyancy acts upwards through this point.
Stability and Freeboard
-The Center of Gravity remains in the same
The more the vessel is pushed over, the further
the Center of Buoyancy moves to the right and the
harder the vessel pushes back.
Heeling Force
-The natural tendency of the boat to return to an
upright position is represented by the length of
the righting lever -The vessels buoyancy
pushes upward on the end of the righting lever
Center of Buoyancy -Geometric center of the
underwater volume moves to a new location -The
vessels buoyancy acts upwards through this point.
Stability and Freeboard
The Center of Gravity remains in the same location
Once the deck edge is immersed, the more the
vessel is pushed over, the shorter the Righting
Lever, and the less the vessel pushes back.
Heeling Force
Most extreme position of Center of Buoyancy
As the Center of Buoyancy moves toward the
centerline, the Righting Lever becomes shorter.
After deck edge immersion, as the vessel heels
further, the Center of Buoyancy moves back toward
the centerline
Stability and Freeboard
Increased weight equals lower Center of Gravity.
With increased weight and displacement, the
Vessel is still in stable equilibrium.
Reduced freeboard.
Center of Buoyancy moves upward.
Vanishing Stability
The Center of Gravity remains in the same location
With lower freeboard, deck edge immersion occurs
much sooner and at a lower angle of heel
Heeling Force
Deck edge is immersed at a small angle of heel
Classic Stability Diagram
A Personal Perspective continued
Fishers dont appreciate being patronized. They
are skilled professionals. But they focus on the
aspects of the job that they value. They want
information, but they want it in an easily
digestible format.
Education and awareness must be tailored to their
adult experience and understanding and not
imposed from a big ship point of view.
Without accessible information, fishers dont
have the time or the inclination to see the
relevance of physics to their lives.
K. Monahan photo
  • Solutions United States Coast Guard
  • US National Institute for Occupational Safety and
  • Since the implementation of the CFIVSA
    (Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Safety Act),
    requiring survival suits, life rafts, electronic
    position indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs), and
    emergency drill training... the number of vessel
    casualties (vessels lost) has remained relatively
    constant... as has the
  • number of people on
  • board... However, the
  • case-fatality rate
  • (number killed/number
  • at risk) associated with
  • these vessel casualties
  • has dropped from 27
  • in 1991 to 11 in 1996.

Regulatory SolutionsPhase 1--Fishing Vessels
Less than 24 meters
  • Risk based (flexibility and choice of alternate
  • Stability requirements (simplified stability for
    vessels less than 15 metres--except for higher
    risk cases)
  • Minimum freeboard (load marks)
  • Equipment carriage requirements based on area of
    operation rather than length--includes
  • liferafts
  • lifejackets (buoyancy, thermal protection, new
  • EPIRBs
  • Construction Standards
  • Active and passive fire protection
  • Training and certification of crew

Regulatory regimes are only part of the picture!
Requires buy-in from the fishing community and
improved understanding of technical issues
  • After a Coroners inquest, a fisher who had
    recently lost several family members was quoted
    as saying he ...learned more sitting through the
    inquest than in 40 years of fishing.
  • Vancouver Province
    Aug. 10, 2005

A Coroners inquest is the last place one
should be learning these lessons.
Promoting education and awareness is a
community responsibility. Everyone must
contribute to the awareness of these issues.
K. Monahan photo
  • Every accident is the result of a chain of
  • - equipment failures
  • - human error
  • - environmental influences
  • - failures to take advantage of opportunities to
  • a deteriorating situation
  • Break the chain at any point and the accident
    will not occur
  • Every one of us that has any influence on the
    chain has an
  • opportunity to stop a link from forming
  • - Skippers and crews - Insurance companies
  • - Fishing Companies - Training Institutions
  • - Boat builders - Regulators
  • - Naval architects - SAR community
  • - Surveyors - Families and Friends

Canadian Coast Guard
What Can the SAR Community Do?
  • Become a catalyst for community involvement
  • Become a respected source of information and
  • (But remember respect is a two-way
  • Promote stability training in the local fishing
    fleet by advocating the goals of fishing vessel
    based stability training
  • 1. ensuring threats to stability are
  • 2. understanding the information in a
    stability book
  • 3. can be taught without math
  • Encourage skippers and deckhands to take the
  • Take the training yourself !!!
  • Learn about the effects of cold shock, swimming
    failure and hypothermia.

  • Kevin Monahan
  • Project Manager - Fishing Vessel Safety
  • CSA2001 Reform Team, Transport Canada Marine
  • Tel. (613) 998-8702 e-mail