Fisheries Department issuing licenses in NL without checking boat registration: TSB


An investigation into a fatal 2020 fishing accident in Newfoundland has prompted the Transportation Safety Board to call on the federal Fisheries Department to change the way it issues fishing licenses.

Board officials said today in St. John’s, NL, they’d like the department to ensure before issuing a license that Canadian commercial fishing vessels have current and accurate registration with Transport Canada, as is required.

The safety board says its investigation into the May 25, 2020 sinking of a crab fishing boat that killed four men revealed more than 4,000 fishing vessels in Newfoundland and Labrador were registered with the Fisheries Department but not with Transport Canada.

Board chair Kathy Fox says the problem is regional — in British Columbia, for example, fishers can’t get a license unless they can prove they’re registered with Transport Canada.

The Sarah Anne was never found and there were no survivors after it went down in Newfoundland’s Placentia Bay, but investigators concluded it likely capsized suddenly, throwing the crew into the water before they could put on life-jackets or immersion suits or make a distress call .

Fox says the boat wasn’t properly registered and lacked various safety features, though she added it’s impossible to tell if adequate registration would have changed the outcome.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2020.

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