May deaths of two New Brunswick fishermen prompt advisory letter from TSB

OTTAWA — The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has issued a warning to three government bodies about overloading fishing boats, in response to the deaths of two New Brunswick lobster fishermen earlier this year.

Fifty-eight-year-old Eugene Beaudin and his 33-year-old great-nephew, Normand Beaudin, fell off their fishing boat and died in the water off Miscou Island, N.B., on May 6.

In the Oct. 30 letter to Transport Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and WorkSafeNB, the safety board’s director of marine investigations, Clifford Harvey, wrote that the vessel Tracy Dawn left the harbour loaded with 119 traps and encountered rough weather.

Harvey says the fishers fell overboard trying to drop traps into the water.

He notes that access to the vessel’s stern was limited by 45-kilogram traps that were stacked to the point where the two crewmembers had to climb over the boat's wheelhouse and then over the traps to get there.

Harvey also says that while the Tracy Dawn was registered with Transport Canada, there is no record indicating that the boat had ever been inspected or had been subject to a formal stability assessment.

“In this occurrence, crew were unable to walk on deck to access the stern and the wheelhouse door was blocked by the stacks of traps, as was the vessel’s life ring,” Harvey wrote.

He points out that the board completed a safety issues investigation on the causes of fatal fishing accidents in 2012 and identified “several systemic factors requiring attention,” including unsafe work practices and inadequate regulatory oversight.

“The foregoing (letter) is provided for whatever followup action is deemed appropriate," Harvey said. “The TSB would appreciate being advised of any action that is proposed or taken in this regard.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2023.

The Canadian Press