CLARK'S HARBOUR, N.S. – The Fisheries Safety Association of Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Fisheries Sector Council have been busy in the weeks leading up to the opening of the lobster fishery delivering man overboard drills, safety equipment demonstrations and safety messages at wharfs throughout southwestern Nova Scotia as part of their ‘Are You Ready?’ program.
“Attendance at these drills has been fantastic, even in smaller ports for 10 or less vessels we are still seeing all captains and crews show up,” said Matthew Duffy, safety advisor for the Fisheries Safety Association of Nova Scotia.
“Their interest has grown immensely, many coming forward with questions around safety and the regulations which is great to see,” Duffy added. “After our drills we end up staying for a half hour or more because there is usually discussions around safety equipment or safety documentation requirements.”
Well over 50 people were on hand at the Clark’s Harbour wharf for the man overboard drill on Nov. 8. Amanda Dedrick, executive director of the Fisheries Safety Association, told fishermen it’s been a sad year in the Nova Scotia fishery with seven fatalities.
“It’s one of the worst years we’ve had in a long time. It’s the most number of tragedies we’ve had since 2013 when we had the Miss Alley tragedy. Out of seven fatalities not one was wearing a PFD,” said Dedrick, noting “It is a legal requirement to wear a PFD when your safety is being jeopardized or you are at risk of drowning.”
Dedrick forewarned fishermen that the provincial Department of Labour will be stepping up enforcement of the regulation when the season opens with an increased presence on wharfs in the area and additional officers.
“If they do see folks coming into the wharfs without their PFDs on you can rest assured there will be some conversation around that,” said Dedrick.
Warnings and penalties can or will be issued if there is non-compliance for the use of a PFD.
The Fisheries Safety Association of Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Fisheries Sector Council began delivering the ‘Are You Ready?’ program in 2012 with wharf-side demonstrations and man overboard drills.
“People seemed pretty interested so we continued along that journey,” said Dedrick, with a goal to hit 100 percent of the 156 fishing wharves in Nova Scotia – a goal they will reach this year.
“By the end of 2018 we will have reached all 156 wharves province wide,” said Duffy. “To date we have completed 155 drills, with some wharfs being repeats.”
The Fisheries Safety Association of Nova Scotia was launched in January 2010, with the objectives to facilitate a process to create safer workplaces, assisting return to work and injury prevention activities; to develop and provide tools to help reduce the number and duration of injuries occurring in the fishing industry; and to increase awareness of costs associated with workplace injury in the fishing industry.
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