FishSafeBC is an organization working through the busy salmon fishery of 2022. A few years ago, Hon. Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, announced funding from Ottawa for FishSafeBC to support an education and awareness initiative as of January 2016 to promote safe boating practices on board small vessels of commercial fishing companies across the country. Commercial fishermen and companies with commercial fishing license qualify for high quality safety education delivered across Canada ever since.
FishSafeBC receives funding for delivery of a successful safety education program originating in B.C., the Safest Catch Program. This program uses fishermen to train other fishermen about relevant regulatory requirements and how to make safety an integral part of their commercial fishing business. The organization also provides fishermen with tools and knowledge needed to create their own documented vessel-specific safety management system.
FishSafeBC has worked closely with the commercial fishing community to expand the Safest Catch Program beyond B.C., including Quebec and the Maritimes. The Government of Canada's financial contribution to FishSafeBC comes from the Commercial Fishing Safety Component of Transport Canada's Boating Safety Contribution Program (BSCP).
The BSCP is a contribution funding program which aims to raise public awareness of boating safety by advancing knowledge of boating safety issues, practices and behaviours through enhanced awareness and education initiative and projects. The program is open for applications until October, 2022, as you will see. The Program has two components – one geared towards safe boating practices on board small commercial fishing vessels and the other focused on recreational boating.
FishSafeBC’s long-serving Program Coordinator is John Krgovich as he spearheads the training to those who call, and shoulders the travel and 'away from home' time this task entails. A career fisherman himself and involved in the Safest Catch Program since its inception in 2009, Krgovich embodies the passion and commitment required to teach other fishermen and to inspire them to help others take ownership of their safety while working.
Commercial fishing is recognized by the International Maritime Organization as one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. Between 2004 and 2013, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada reported a total of 72 fatalities from fishing vessel accidents in Canada.
FishSafeBC is a not-for-profit organization that was established in 2004 and operates as the British Columbia commercial fishing industry's designated health and safety association. "The Federal government is committed to working with FishSafeBC partners and stakeholders to promote safe boating practices across the country. The investment in FishSafeBC's initiative will help enhance the lives and livelihoods of Canada's commercial fishers by helping to reduce loss of life, injuries and property damage due to accidents on the water," said Hon. Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport.
Fishing is an industry where too many lives have been lost and for family members, forever altered, so funding for practical training that encourages personal ownership of safety is never more timely, and appreciated. FishSafeBC looks forward to the voyage ahead and the prospect of working hand in hand with fishermen across Canada in the quest to come home safely season after season."
FishSafeBC achieved a major milestone in the Transport Canada funded Safest Catch Program Initiative on Sep. 26, 2016 when a small group of fishermen in PEI began their training to become Safest Catch Safety Advisors.
As recipient of Transport Canada’s funding under the Boating Safety Contribution Program – Commercial Fishing, FishSafeBC committed to an east coast outreach process that ran to August 2016. The program travelled in 2017 to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and Quebec on the invitation of a broad contingent of interested fishermen and individuals representing fishing associations, unions, educational providers, safety associations and industry representatives. The aim of these meetings was to fully discuss the mandate of the project as well as funding available.
The strength of the Safest Catch Program is its use of active fishermen, trained as Safety Advisors, to train other fishermen in a practical, one-on-one manner on board fishermen’s own vessels in the areas of emergency readiness, use of safety equipment and documentation of safety plans.
FishSafeBC’s training of Safety Advisors continues to extend to additional groups of fishermen in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in 2018, and over the course of the initiative, east coast delivery of the Safest Catch Program is projected to impact 350 fishing vessels and the close to 700 fishermen working on board them. This will be in addition to activity already well underway in B.C. that will impact a further 500 fishermen working on well over 200 vessels.
Much work has yet to be accomplished but FishSafeBC operators are thrilled and inspired by the many coastal fishermen who have come forward and made themselves available to learn how to effectively teach other fishermen to manage their risks while fishing.
Continue to check the FishSafeBC Website regularly as they will post updates on progress coast to coast in the weeks and months to come!