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Fishery a dangerous place to work


Recently the news has reminded us all yet again that tragic loss of life while working in the fishery is just a normal part of life.

The loss statistics are alarming and they speak volumes about the lack of accountability to those who work harvesting seafood and to the public at large.
(The last public statistics counted 42 deaths in the fishery over the recent decade and 193 deaths over the prior three decades).
Unfortunately, the agencies that regulate fish harvesting place little value on the right of fish harvesters to work in a safe environment relative to those who are employed in other workplaces.  So why is there no public inquiry into the continuing disaster in the fishery?
Any tragedy of this nature deserves much public scrutiny. If this incident were in the offshore oil industry, a public inquiry would be a certainty.
But here again no such scrutiny or accountability for tragedies involving fish harvesters, no matter the loss of life or frequency.
The reason why the safety of fish harvesters is not being addressed is principally due to the politics that pervades the management of the fishery by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).
 DFO imposes a host of arbitrary rules on fishing enterprises that inherently increase the risks that harvesters must take to pursue their livelihood.
DFO limits the size and capability of the fishing vessels to the point that the vessels are incapable of providing adequate working space and stability relative to the conditions demanded by the environment and the workplace activity within which harvesters perform their daily tasks.
While Transport Canada regulates marine safety, it has been unable to develop and implement appropriate safety standards because any such standards would completely contradict the arbitrary rules of DFO. The politics of the fishery favours the manager, DFO, and not the regulator, Transport Canada. DFO’s draconian policies and regulations prevail despite the continual loss of life.
While DFO protects the status quo, the regulator, Transport Canada, just lets the horrific losses continue to pile up.
Any objective review of the safety record in the fishery would clearly demonstrate the need for a public inquiry into the causes of the scandalously high loss of life.
Is there a double standard being applied to those who work in the fishery? Are their lives not judged of the same value?
There are so many families who deserve not just answers but also real change on the part of governments to improve the working environment for those who fish for a living. A full public inquiry is long overdue.
In a year of elections, it would be encouraging if one of our political leaders would prioritize such a worthy public cause.

Gabe Gregory
St. Philip’s

The loss statistics are alarming and they speak volumes about the lack of accountability to those who work harvesting seafood and to the public at large.
(The last public statistics counted 42 deaths in the fishery over the recent decade and 193 deaths over the prior three decades).
Unfortunately, the agencies that regulate fish harvesting place little value on the right of fish harvesters to work in a safe environment relative to those who are employed in other workplaces.  So why is there no public inquiry into the continuing disaster in the fishery?
Any tragedy of this nature deserves much public scrutiny. If this incident were in the offshore oil industry, a public inquiry would be a certainty.
But here again no such scrutiny or accountability for tragedies involving fish harvesters, no matter the loss of life or frequency.
The reason why the safety of fish harvesters is not being addressed is principally due to the politics that pervades the management of the fishery by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).
 DFO imposes a host of arbitrary rules on fishing enterprises that inherently increase the risks that harvesters must take to pursue their livelihood.
DFO limits the size and capability of the fishing vessels to the point that the vessels are incapable of providing adequate working space and stability relative to the conditions demanded by the environment and the workplace activity within which harvesters perform their daily tasks.
While Transport Canada regulates marine safety, it has been unable to develop and implement appropriate safety standards because any such standards would completely contradict the arbitrary rules of DFO. The politics of the fishery favours the manager, DFO, and not the regulator, Transport Canada. DFO’s draconian policies and regulations prevail despite the continual loss of life.
While DFO protects the status quo, the regulator, Transport Canada, just lets the horrific losses continue to pile up.
Any objective review of the safety record in the fishery would clearly demonstrate the need for a public inquiry into the causes of the scandalously high loss of life.
Is there a double standard being applied to those who work in the fishery? Are their lives not judged of the same value?
There are so many families who deserve not just answers but also real change on the part of governments to improve the working environment for those who fish for a living. A full public inquiry is long overdue.
In a year of elections, it would be encouraging if one of our political leaders would prioritize such a worthy public cause.

Gabe Gregory
St. Philip’s

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