Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

November 20, 2006 13:02 ET

Statement by Loyola Hearn Minister of Fisheries and Oceans: Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada Outlines Steps Underway to Improve Safety of Fishers

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Nov. 20, 2006) - This morning the Transportation Safety Board released its report on the September 19, 2004 accident involving the Ryan's Commander.

For those of us who were touched by this tragedy, the delivery of this report is important. While an investigation that helps us understand how to improve safety on the water is welcome and necessary, we must never forget that this story is first and foremost a personal tragedy. I would like to again express my sympathy to the Ryan family. This accident was particularly tragic to this one family that in one day lost two men who were brothers, husbands and sons.

Since forming government, both Minister Cannon and I have taken steps to strengthen marine vessel safety. We have directed our officials to reach a Memorandum of Understanding that will clarify roles and responsibilities in regards to marine safety, and help increase cooperation between the two departments. This agreement was signed about a month ago. Minister Cannon's department has already implemented the recommendation released as a result of the TSB's interim investigation into the Ryan's Commander incident.

While today's final report has not made any official recommendations concerning DFO's regulations, I have asked departmental officials to continue to ensure all fisheries management decisions are reviewed from a safety point of view and that safety considerations are included in the development of fisheries management plans. Vessel replacement policies are being re-examined to control fishing vessel capacity for conservation and fisheries management purposes while improving safety and efficiency in fishing operations.

Consultations on the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Fishing Industry Renewal Initiative which I recently launched in conjunction with my provincial colleagues are looking at a number of issues including vessel replacement policies. One of the guiding principles of the discussions on potential changes to these policies is to ensure safety is not compromised and that is consistent with the policies and regulations of other agencies responsible for vessel safety.

I also welcome the work being done by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, as they hear the concerns of fishers and the fishing industry on the important issue of safety at sea. Their feedback on this important issue will be taken into account as the department continues its work in the area of fisheries management.

Today's report helps us learn from this tragedy, and I want to thank the members of the TSB for their dedicated investigative efforts. While it is everyone's preference that these types of tragedies never happen, it is important that we have a system in place that looks carefully at these incidents and helps us learn from them.

Hopefully, because of work like this, and with political leadership setting an example of cooperation with our partners in industry, the sea will continue to become a safer place for everyone.

Contact Information

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa
    Office of the Minister
    Steve Outhouse
    Director of Communications
    613-992-3474