Another Fishing Boat Lost

On the East Coast another FV has suddenly sank, only two lives were lost this time. Two too many.

In this day and age of safety and regulations that all professional mariners live by, it amazes me that this segment of the marine industry seems to slide below the radar.

It is the same old story:

Fatal sinking probe looks at load rules
By MICHAEL TUTTON The Canadian Press

The probe into the sinking of a fishing boat off the coast of Newfoundland might look at whether legal definitions are needed to determine when a fishing vessel is overloaded, the lead investigator examining the tragedy said Wednesday.

Pierre Murray of the Transportation Safety Board said survivors he interviewed gave conflicting statements on how low the Sea Gypsy’s stern sat in the water before it sank Saturday.

The sinking claimed at least one life.

“I heard all kinds of things when I was there (in Newfoundland),” Murray said.

He noted that the distance between the deck of the vessel and the ocean surface remain a question of dispute among the crew members.

“I heard a half a foot, I heard a foot, I heard three feet.”

Murray said there’s no legal definition to determine when a fishing boat is overloaded.

However, there is such a measurement for virtually every other commercial boat.

“As it stands today there is no such thing as overloading a fishing vessel. There is no maximum load mark on a fishing vessel,” he said.

“It is a controversial issue, and it’s not a very easy issue to resolve. However, this thing (the sinking) will force us to have a second look at it again.”

Murray said Transport Canada attempted to bring in rules on maximum loads for fishing vessels.

But the department had encountered resistance from the fishing industry because of the various sizes and structures of fishing vessels.

Officials with Transport Canada were unavailable for comment.

The captain and two other men were rescued in Saturday’s sinking.

A deckhand died and another has not been found since the incident.

One survivor, deckhand Jimmy Kavanagh of Calvert, N.L., told CBC on Tuesday that the vessel was overloaded with shrimp.

But vessel owner Laurie Sullivan, who was not on board, said Monday there was “a regular load.”

He declined further comment Wednesday.

The wife of the captain, Larry Roche, of Witless Bay, N.L., said he wasn’t feeling well enough to discuss the issue.

Murray cautioned that it is early in the investigation, and it remains to be seen if loading actually played a role in the fatal sinking.

Loading rules are the norm with other oceangoing vessels.

A marking known as the Plimsoll line shows the level that the water should reach if the ship is properly loaded.

It was named after 19th century English politician Samuel Plimsoll, who advocated its adoption in hopes of decreasing the number of sinkings due to overloading.

Murray said the Transportation Safety Board supports such a system.

The Sea Gypsy, a shrimp fishing boat, was returning with its catch on Saturday morning when its stern holds filled with water and sank about 120 kilometres east of St. John’s.

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