Notes For Remarks
Camille Thériault

Chairman, Transportation Safety Board of Canada

on the occasion of the release of the final report No. M02W0147

into the Capsizing of the Cap Rouge II

Press Conference on 20 November 2003, Vancouver, British Columbia

Thank you, John, and good morning.
Merci, John, et bonjour tout le monde.

Nous sommes rassemblés ici aujourd'hui pour rendre publics les faits établis quant aux causes et aux facteurs contributifs du chavirement du Cap Rouge II.

Our purpose today is to reveal the findings as to the causes and contributing factors that led to the capsizing of the Cap Rouge II.

We'll also make recommendations that, when acted upon, will mitigate the risk of a similar occurrence from happening again.

Our findings stem from a detailed investigation, which began immediately after the tragedy and spanned a 15-month period. The release of our final report marks its official conclusion.

To provide you with a thorough review of our investigation, I'm joined by Brian Lewis, investigator-in-charge, Marine Branch; and Lancelot Bedlington, naval architect and senior investigator.

I am especially pleased that Jonathan Seymour, who is a member of our Board and a resident of this community, has been able to join us today for this important announcement.

We are available to answer your questions following our formal presentation.

I want to begin by saying a few words about our organization so that you understand the context of this investigation.

The TSB is an independent agency. It operates at arm's length from other government departments, such as Transport Canada.

Our mandate is to advance transportation safety by conducting investigations into occurrences, such as the Cap Rouge II.

We respond to many occurrences but fully investigate those that represent the greatest potential to identify safety deficiencies. Where appropriate, we make safety recommendations.

The TSB is not a regulator or a law maker. That means we don't assign blame. And we don't look for a guilty party.

Instead, the TSB uncovers safety deficiencies and brings them to the attention of regulators and industry.

When we find unsafe conditions, we act immediately and communicate immediately with those who can take corrective measures.

For example, during this investigation and before the final report was completed, the TSB identified specific issues related to the rescue dive operation and escape routes in crew spaces, and we moved quickly to inform stakeholders, including the Canadian Coast Guard, the Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Transport Canada. They have responded to our concerns and are currently addressing these safety deficiencies.

It is important to note that significant steps have already been taken to help ensure that similar accidents do not happen again.

Today, we make further progress towards this end by announcing three recommendations— recommendations that relate to the stability of fishing vessels and the promotion of safe practices on board.

I'm going to provide a recap of the incident and then turn it over to Brian and Lancelot for a more detailed briefing on what happened, why it happened, and how we can prevent similar occurrences in the future.

On the morning of August 13th, 2002, the commercial salmon fishing vessel Cap Rouge II was bound for the entrance of the north arm of the Fraser River.

When the vessel was approximately two miles south of Sand Heads Light, it capsized with seven persons on board.

Two persons managed to abandon the vessel and climb into a skiff towed by the fishing vessel. Five persons, including two children, remained within the overturned hull and lost their lives.

I now would ask Brian Lewis and Lancelot Bedlington to report on the technical aspects of our findings.

------------ Presentation by Brian Lewis and Lancelot Bedlington ------------

Thank you, Brian and Lancelot.

Let me summarize the three recommendations stemming from this investigation.

The first two relate to the stability of small fishing vessels. We recognize that Transport Canada is currently addressing this major safety risk. However, until new measures are introduced, we recommend that

The Department of Transport require all new inspected small fishing vessels of closed construction to submit stability data for approval.

We also recommend that

The Department of Transport require all existing inspected small fishing vessels currently without any approved stability data be subjected to a roll period test and a corresponding freeboard verification no later than their next scheduled quadrennial inspection.

Here I would like to acknowledge the important work already being done by Transport Canada and fishers. Our recommendations are crafted to complement their efforts to make this industry safer.

The third and final recommendation relates to the development of a strong safety culture on board fishing vessels.

This tragedy demonstrates that there is a need to initiate a change in attitude among fishers. To this end, the Board recommends that

The Department of Transport, in collaboration with the fishing community, reduce unsafe practices by means of a code of best practices for small fishing vessels, including loading and stability, and that its adoption be encouraged through effective education and awareness programs.

Much of today has been spent on the technical aspects of this investigation. But all successful investigations are first and foremost an act of compassion for those who've endured the sorrow of human loss.

Yesterday, we spoke with the next-of-kin and hope that, even against this tragic backdrop, they can take comfort in knowing that at least some good has come from it, that many other lives may be saved as a result of this marine investigation.

This is our aim. That's because the fishing industry can be a risky business. In the past decade, 493 Canadian fishing vessels have been lost, and 76 fishers have perished.

And while fishers understand that the sea is a dangerous place, they've never found that a good enough reason to remain ashore.

I understand. I come from New Brunswick and have worked in the fishing industry. I know what it's like for communities such as Steveston and Sturdies Bay to be tied to the sea, economically as well as emotionally.

We've worked hard on behalf of the people in these communities, recognizing that transportation safety is essential to their economic and social well-being. Since the TSB's creation in 1990, the TSB has released a number of safety communications that have helped to make this vital industry safer.

We are a learning organization. Lessons learned from our investigations help make transportation safer in Canada because we share them with regulators, industry, and other organizations that can have an impact to improve safety. These lessons allow us to become more knowledgeable and better able to serve Canadians.

But our work continues.

The Board Members join me in expressing our hope that this investigation will signal a renewed focus on a safety culture at sea.

With the publication of our report, steps have been taken towards this end.

Important lessons have been learned from what we would all agree was a tragic accident. We at the TSB believe that the recommendations made today will make commercial fishing a safer occupation in the future.

Thank you.

I now want to open up the floor for questions.

The communiqué and report no. M02W0147 are also available on this site.