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MFU Spokesperson Supports Planned Life Jacket Rules

By Tara Clow Nov 3, 2022 | 12:52 PM

“Anything that can prevent injury or death on the water is a good thing,” says the Fisheries Advisor for the Maritime Fishermen’s Union.

Luc Leblanc expects members will conform to new life jacket rules coming into effect in 2024.

Currently, personal floatation devices must be onboard the boats under rules by Transport Canada but fishers aren’t mandated to wear them.

The provincial government announced amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act this week, which would include fishing vessels as a place of employment and require the mandatory wearing of safety devices such as life jackets or personal flotation devices for fishers while working.

The changes will take effect on June 1, 2024.

Leblanc says there may be a bit of a pushback, but fishers will be encouraged to wear them.

Leblanc says the feeling won’t be unanimous, and he has heard a few complaints.  He does expect there  a bit of pushback from some, “They(life jackets) can be quite hot, and they can be quite cumbersome in terms of moving on the desk for deckhands. If you look at the new life jackets that are available, they are much more compact and easy to work with.”

The Union did have some input into the process when decisions on amendments were being made.

Leblanc adds there are still a few unanswered questions currently about these new rules.

There is still a question as to who is going to enforce them, “To my knowledge, New Brunswick doesn’t have vessels to go out on the water to enforce this. Transport Canada might be the enforcement agency, but there’s also a question of whether they’re actually out on the water enforcing it. In other provinces, in Nova Scotia, for example, WorkSafe there, works on the wharves, but there’s no enforcement ability, on the water, which is going to be one of our question marks regarding this,” Leblanc says.

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