New Plan to Improve Fishing Safety (June 4/15)

Workers' Compensation Board/Fisheries and Aquaculture/Labour and Advanced Education
June 4, 2015 2:25 PM

Fishermen, industry and government released a plan today, June 4, in Eastern Passage, aimed at making Nova Scotia's commercial fishing industry safer.

Fishing Safety Now is a plan by and for Nova Scotia's fishing industry. Developed by the Safe at Sea Alliance – a group of fishermen, family members, industry, safety organizations, community leaders, and government – the plan includes several recommendations to help improve safety.

Recommendations include the development of a safety toolkit, more education and awareness of safety requirements, and more training and safety drills.

"We need to do something to make the industry safer," said Dale Richardson, a swordfish and lobster fisherman from Sable River, Shelburne Co., and a Safe at Sea Alliance industry representative. "We won't fix everything overnight, but by having everyone in the same room – industry, Workers' Compensation Board, government, Nova Scotia Community College and the Transportation Safety Board, we're making giant leaps forward."

The Fisheries Safety Association of Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Fisheries Sector Council will take the lead on carrying out the 33 recommendations.

"Fishing Safety Now will help grow and expand the work we started in 2012 with the Workers’ Compensation Board and government," said Lisa Fitzgerald, executive director, Nova Scotia Fisheries Sector Council. "It provides a clear path forward to improve safety in an industry that means so much to so many."

"True culture change takes time," said Noël Després, chair of the Fisheries Safety Association. "While we know that some things will be easy to implement fairly quickly, there are some that are complex and will take more time. The good news is that progress has already begun, so we're off to a strong start."

Highlights from the plan are better awareness of practices and regulations, more safety training and education and reviews of policies and processes for such things as weather forecasting and fisheries management.

"Fishermen have led the charge to improve safety across the industry. I commend them for their ongoing commitment," said Keith Colwell, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. "Their leadership on this plan speaks to their continued efforts to make our fishing industry the safest it can be."

"I think we should all feel proud of this plan and what it means for the future of fishing in Nova Scotia," said Stuart MacLean, CEO, Workers' Compensation Board of Nova Scotia. "We're all committed to this work. We've built a solid foundation that will ensure these recommendations are carried out. The plan is only the beginning."

Fishing safety is a key part of the province's Workplace Safety Strategy and the Commercial Fishing Strategy.

Since 2007, 35 people have died working in Nova Scotia's commercial fisheries. In 2013 alone, there were eight deaths; three more fishermen died at work in 2014. So far in 2015, two people have died in fishing related incidents.

For a copy of Fishing Safety Now, visit