Unsafe practices left fishermen stranded for nine days off B.C. coast in May 2012
Gatineau, Quebec, 6 June 2013 — Today, the Transportation Safety Board released its investigation report (M12W0062) ) into the small fishing vessel Pacific Siren, which capsized and sank in May 2012 off Banks Island, British Columbia.
On 7 May 2012, three fishermen set out aboard the Pacific Siren to begin their prawn season. Two days later, the crew departed for Cumshewa Inlet in Haida Gwaii where the vessel experienced heavy winds that caused it to roll and take on water, partially as a result of heavy gear placed too high on deck. In an effort to counter the rolling motion, the crew deployed the paravane stabilizers. The dragging force of the paravane stabilizers increased the vessel's top side weight.
A large swell and gust of wind rolled the vessel further onto its side, washing even more water onboard. The force of the winds, combined with the additional water, deployed paravanes and off center weight, caused the vessel to capsize and sink on the evening of 9 May 2012. After floating for roughly 20 hours in an inflatable boat, the crew reached Banks Island where they were rescued nine days later by the Canadian Coast Guard.
Accidents such as the one involving the Pacific Siren are the cumulative result of unsafe practices, environmental factors and working conditions that align to form a window of opportunity for an accident to occur. In the fishing industry, the TSB found there are 10 complex and interrelated issues that affect fishing safety, 6 of which were at play in this accident. To ensure a safer environment for fishermen, their crew and vessels, leaders in the fishing community must work together to promote a culture where safety is the prime concern.
The Pacific Prawn Fishermen's Association and Fish Safe BC have since developed an industry code of best practices.
The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.
For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
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