News release

A wide turn, sandbar, and breaking waves led to a 2013 fatal fishing vessel grounding in Tabusintac Bay, New Brunswick

Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 13 November 2014 – In its investigation report (M13M0102) into a fatal accident involving the fishing vessel Marie J released today, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) concluded that a wide turn close to a sandbar, and successive breaking waves contributed to the grounding and sinking of the vessel. The three people onboard drowned.

On 18 May 2013, the small lobster fishing vessel grounded on a sandbar in bad weather while returning to McEachern's Point Harbour in Tabusintac Bay, New Brunswick. The investigation found that the vessel made a wide turn around the first red buoy at the beginning of the channel, positioning the vessel close to the sandbar. Two successive breaking waves struck the vessel, set it to port and caused it to ground on the sandbar. The waves continued to strike the vessel, pushing it over the sandbar where it sank.

The TSB also determined that two other contributing factors to the grounding were that both the accuracy of the locations of the buoys and the position of the sandbar could not be determined because the tidal gully was prone to silting and bottom shifting.

Since the occurrence, the Canadian Coast Guard reviewed buoy placement in the channel, and five green port hand buoys were added to the channel. For its part, Fisheries and Oceans Canada commissioned a study to assess alternative strategies for improving navigational safety to access McEachern's Point Harbour at Tabusintac Bay. The study identified multiple options and found future environmental changes may cause additional breaches in the sandbars, decreasing tidal flow and increasing sedimentation.


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
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-994-8053
Email: media@tsb.gc.ca