Transportation Safety Board report on sinking cites lax federal rules on stability
A Transportation Safety Board of Canada report has linked the fatal sinking of a Nova Scotia scallop dragger in 2020 to years of federal inaction on the imposition of stricter stability standards for fishing vessels.
The report released Wednesday says the Chief William Saulis should have been tested for stability, given the fact that major changes had been made to the boat by its owners. They had added a heavy, A-frame structure for scallop dragging, a protective plate to the boat's stern, and covers to close drainage holes.
On Dec. 15, 2020, the modified vessel capsized in the Bay of Fundy during a gale as it returned to its home port in Digby, N.S. All six crew on board died.
The independent agency says Transport Canada inspectors during a 2017 visit didn't tell Yarmouth Sea Products Ltd. that the modifications to the boat were stability "risk factors," which were defined in a federal safety bulletin and questionnaire.
It says these factors "would have required a stability assessment" by a naval architect, who would have produced written guidelines for the crew on how to safely load the vessel.
Transport Canada has told The Canadian Press that federal rules at the time didn't mandate stability assessments after vessels are modified. That rule was brought in three months after the inspection of the Chief William Saulis.
However, the board made clear in its report and during Wednesday's news conference that it has long urged a stricter law on stability assessments and that Transport Canada hasn't complied.
The TSB recommended after the 2015 capsizing of the Caledonian off the west coast of Vancouver Island, which resulted in three deaths, that Transport Canada require "all" small fishing vessels to have stability assessments, with the results "readily available to the crew."
Kathy Fox, the chair of the TSB, said during the news conference that with an average of 11 fishers dying every year in Canada, she is still "pressing" for the fulfilment of this recommendation.
"That is the only way the crew on these vessels will know the safe operating limits; otherwise, they go on experience and on feeling and that's proven in the past to be insufficient," she said during the news conference in Halifax.
Crew on the Chief William Saulis followed the industry practice of heavily loading the vessel with catch during its return crossing to the wharf in Digby. Due to the rough weather, the crew had left about half the scallops on the deck with the shells still on, which allowed them to slide about, the report says.
The report says about 2,700 kilograms of scallops were stacked almost two metres high on the boat's deck, which the agency says likely contributed to the boat's instability and potentially blocked its ability to drain water.
The bodies of Eugene (Geno) Michael Francis, Aaron Cogswell, Leonard Gabriel, Dan Forbes and captain Charles Roberts were never recovered after the 17-metre vessel went down off Delaps Cove. The body of crew member Michael Drake was swept up on the rocky shoreline.
Michelle Nickerson-Forbes, the widow of Dan Forbes, said the sinking left their two sons without a father, and she said the lack of regulatory oversight of the industry makes her feel physically ill.
"It makes me sick to my stomach," she said in an interview Tuesday evening. "It makes me sad to know he could still be here. It makes me wonder how and why things slipped through the cracks like they did.
"It scares me because I come from a fishing family so I still have people out on fishing vessels."
Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra declined a request for an interview. His department sent a written statement Wednesday saying it would "thoroughly review the investigation report and its recommendation" and provide a formal response in 90 days.
Transport Canada had said in a January email that its inspectors weren't "triggered" to have the owners fill out a questionnaire that would have identified the need for a stability test, and that it's up to the owner "to ensure the vessel is operated safely and is loaded and ballasted" in a way that ensures stability.
Yarmouth Sea Products, through a lawyer, declined to comment on the matter on Wednesday.
According to the safety board's website, stability has been a factor in the sinking of five vessels since 2007, including the 2020 sinking of the fishing boat Sarah Anne off Newfoundland's south coast, which claimed four lives.
In the report released Wednesday, the board also said that Transport Canada needs to provide to fishing companies clear templates that lay out safety procedures. It recommends that Transport Canada inspectors "verify that each required written safety procedure is available to the crew and that the crew are knowledgeable of these procedures."
In the case of the Chief William Saulis, the report cites the lack of clear procedures for the vessel regarding when to close drainage ports and about how scallops should be stowed on deck -- two procedures it said were "elements critical for the stability" of the boat.
During the news conference, Fox said the "ongoing lack of regulatory oversight means that fishing crews are routinely operating on vessels without even knowing how to stay safe or how to respond when things go wrong."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 22, 2023.
This is a corrected story. A previous version said the sinking resulted in five deaths.
Atlantic Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Hundreds of American firefighters arrive in Canada to help battle wildfires
Hundreds of American firefighters have recently arrived in Canada to help battle wildfires and more are on the way, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday.
Can face masks help protect you from wildfire smoke? Health expert explains
An official recommendation to wear a mask to protect yourself from wildfire smoke is being echoed by health experts as plumes of smoke make their way across parts of Canada, causing poor air quality.
Here's how major cities in Canada and the U.S. look blanketed by wildfire smoke
Photos show smoke-filled skies in cities across Canada and the U.S. as air quality warnings were issued in wake of the hundreds of wildfires from Quebec and Ontario.
'Very, very hard to breathe': Experts call wildfires a 'major public health concern' for Canada
As forest fires rage across the country, experts are sounding the alarm over the physical and psychological impacts of the wildfires and saying that they pose a serious public health issue, which individuals and governments need to acknowledge and act upon.
WATCH | Rate hike 'may be the last straw' for some homeowners: mortgage broker
With the latest hike bringing Canada's key interest rates to levels not seen since 2001, one mortgage broker is warning that it may be 'the last straw' for some homeowners with variable mortgages.
Canadians more likely to support foreign interference inquiry than hearings: Nanos
Canadians are twice as likely to support a formal inquiry into foreign interference, as opposed to public hearings, according to new polling from Nanos Research for CTV News.
opinion | Eight takeaways from Prince Harry's seven hours on the witness stand
It's been a busy, tumultuous few days for Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex as he took his place on the witness stand in his trial against the Mirror Group Newspapers. Here are royal commentator Afua Hagan's top takeaways from his two-day grilling.
Calgary mass killer Matthew de Grood seeks 'absolute discharge'
The man who was found not criminally responsible in the stabbing deaths of five people at a house party in Brentwood more than nine years ago is seeking more freedoms.
Trudeau shows no interest in compromising with Meta, Google over online news bill
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is showing no interest in compromising with Meta and Google over a Liberal bill that would make them pay for Canadian journalism that helps the companies generate revenue.
consumer, | Toronto woman 'horrified' after losing $95,000 to romance scam
Romance scams have always been around, but they got worse during the pandemic, and fraudsters continue to use social media and dating sites to find victims.
Number of Ontario forest fires doubled compared to same time last year
Ontario has already experienced double the number of forest fires this year compared to the same six months in 2022.
Alleged Toronto anti-cyclist road rage incident caught on camera
Toronto police are investigating an incident of alleged road rage against a cyclist that was caught on camera.
Council reconsiders decision to reject recommendations on affordability crisis
Calgary city council has reconsidered its decision to vote against recommendations made by an expert panel to address the city’s housing affordability crisis.
Man on mobility scooter hit by truck in northeast Calgary intersection
Police say a man on a mobility scooter has life-altering injuries after he was struck by a vehicle in a northeast Calgary intersection on Wednesday evening.
Hot, dry weather comes with cautions and a few benefits
Calgary was under a heat warning Wednesday with forecast high of 29C.
Ontario man charged with first-degree murder in killing of Claudia Iacono outside Montreal salon
An Ontario man has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Claudia Iacono, the daughter-in-law of Mafia associate Moreno Gallo, after she was gunned down at the wheel of her car in Montreal last month.
Woman, 55, dies after vehicle strikes 2 pedestrians in Cote-des-Neiges; second pedestrian seriously injured
A pedestrian has died after she and a fellow pedestrian were both hit by a vehicle Wednesday afternoon in Montreal's Cote-des-Neiges neighbourhood.
More evacuations in Quebec as record-breaking fires continue to burn
Quebec's wildfire season, which has forced thousands from their homes and left other communities on high alert, is the worst on record, officials said Wednesday,
Albertans asked to conserve electricity Wednesday evening due to hot temperatures
Hot temperatures across Alberta prompted a grid alert Wednesday afternoon.
'A long time coming': Edmonton Catholics commit $3.2M to Indigenous reconciliation fund
The Archdiocese of Edmonton will spend $3.2 million on reconciliation initiatives with First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in the Alberta capital region.
'Major travel delays': Anthony Henday Drive bridge will be closed this weekend
Drivers are being asked to find another way or prepare for delays on the Henday this weekend, because crews need to close a bridge over the North Saskatchewan River.
Wildfire west of Sudbury prompts evacuation order, total active fires in northern Ont. grows to 54
A northern Ontario forest fire that started west of Sudbury on Sunday morning has grown to more than 1,000 hectares and has prompted officials to issue an evacuation order for the immediate area as the number of active fires in the region grows.
Spreading wildfires prompt northeastern communities to evacuate
Communities affected by wildfires in the region are evacuating for safety reasons. The province says there is significant danger as several out-of-control wildfires affect air quality and physical safety.
‘Incompetent’ northern Ont. doctor loses his license to practise medicine
A northern Ontario doctor has been stripped of his medical licence for conduct described as “disgraceful, dishonourable or unprofessional.”
VIDEO | 'Hate and discrimination have no place in any TVDSB schools': Investigation underway after pride flag torn down
Students at Sir Frederick Banting Secondary School in London, Ont. are being investigated after a video was posted online showing students tearing down a LGBTQ2S+ pride flag.
Special air quality statement remains in effect, rain possible over the weekend
As wildfire smoke blankets Ontario and eastern U.S., causing hazardous air quality and hazy skies, smoke in the Forest City is expected to remain until at least Thursday night.
City pitches new parking garage and extended free parking to aid downtown London, Ont.’s recovery
Since early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the Honk Mobile Parking App has offered two hours of free municipal parking in London’s core area business districts.
Trustee suspended over posts targeting LGBTQ2S+ community, division says
A Manitoba school trustee has been suspended over social media posts the division says targeted the LGBTQ2S+ community.
Continued closure of Fort Gibraltar causing changes for soon to be married couples
The closure of Fort Gibraltar following the collapse of an elevated walkway that sent 16 students and one teacher to hospital has left some couples scrambling to find a place to get married.
Crash with stolen vehicle sends two Winnipeg officers to hospital
A section of Main Street is closed on Wednesday morning following a car crash in the area.
Special Air Quality Statement
Special Air Quality Statement | Wildfire smoke blankets Ottawa for a third day
Environment Canada has issued a special air quality statement for Ottawa, with the air quality at 10+ "very high risk" Wednesday morning. Conditions improved in the afternoon.
Plug-in air purifier blamed for row house fire in Craig Henry area
The Ottawa Fire Service says a plug-in air purifier is to blame for a fire on Craig Henry Drive Tuesday.
Centennial Lake fire being held; evacuation order in place until Friday
The wildfire at Centennial Lake, 150 km west of Ottawa, is being held by firefighters, but an evacuation order remains in effect until Friday.
Saskatoon property taxes could see 13 per cent hike as city confronts $75M revenue gap
Significant property tax hikes may be needed to cover a funding shortfall, according to City of Saskatoon administration.
Saskatoon builder looking to flip abandoned homes to first time buyers
A Saskatoon man wants to play matchmaker for the unloved homes in the city.
Latest season of survivalist series 'Alone' filmed in Sask., set to premiere June 8
The rugged wilderness of northern Saskatchewan was host to survivalists from all walks of life, vying to win the top prize of the popular series 'Alone.'
Out-of-control wildfire on Lower Mainland sees massive growth
A human-caused wildfire on the Lower Mainland has grown to an estimated 800 hectares and continues to burn out of control Wednesday, according to the BC Wildfire Service.
'You don't listen to renters': Vancouver Tenants Union disrupts housing announcement
Rental housing advocates interrupted an announcement by B.C.'s housing minister in Vancouver Wednesday morning to object to the provincial government's response to the affordability crisis.
Vancouver voice actors concerned about AI cloning voices without consent
Advances in artificial intelligence means software can generate accurate voice clones that sound just like the real thing, but that's putting some actors in a precarious position, including Vancouver's Bill Newton.
Future uncertain for residents of bulldozed Regina homeless camp
The dwellings of around a dozen Regina residents experiencing homelessness were bulldozed after calls from the property owner.
Less than 50% of Indigenous students graduate from provincial schools, report says
Indigenous graduation rates are sliding in the province, according to Saskatchewan’s provincial auditor.
Regina city council asks for debt limit increase
Regina city council has asked its administration to pursue permission from the Saskatchewan Municipal Board (SMB) to increase its debt limit to $780 million.
Extended highway closure expected due to wildfire near Port Alberni
There's no end in sight for the closure of Highway 4 on Vancouver Island – the only highway leading to the communities of Port Alberni, Tofino and Ucluelet – due to a wildfire burning in the area.
Busload of B.C. students stranded by wildfire spend the night inside Vancouver Island high school
A busload of high school students were finally heading home to Nanaimo on Wednesday after they were stranded by a raging wildfire that forced them to spend the night inside a Port Alberni high school.
Speed and alcohol likely factors in fatal Nanaimo crash
A 33-year-old man from Nanaimo is dead after a single-vehicle crash south of the city Tuesday.