Canada has the longest coastline of any country in the world and shares the largest freshwater lake system on earth. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) investigates marine occurrences that take place anywhere in Canada—or elsewhere if Canadians are involved. The TSB also participates in foreign investigations to represent Canadian interests and, occasionally, to provide investigation services.
Since the TSB’s creation in 1990, Marine Investigations Branch investigations and Board recommendations have led to numerous safety advancements in Canada, including: the mandatory use of personal flotation devices on fishing vessels, expanded use of emergency signalling devices on vessels, and increased awareness regarding to the hazards associated with towing.
TSB Marine investigators come from a variety of backgrounds; they are certified as masters or chief engineers of commercial vessels, masters of fishing vessels or naval architects. All have extensive experience in the marine industry. As well as conducting investigations, they participate in national and international government and industry groups to monitor safety trends and communicate safety issues to change agents.
Marine transportation occurrences in 2020
In 2020, 262 marine accidents were reported to the TSB, a decrease from the 2019 total of 267 and below the 10-year (2010–2019) average of 289. The number of “shipping accidents” increased to 219 from the last year’s 207. However, with 43 accidents reported, 2020 saw a decrease in “accidents aboard ship” from the 60 reported in 2019.
Eighteen marine fatalities were reported, which is up from the 17 fatalities reported in 2019, and still above the annual average of 15.4 in the 2010–2019 time period. Of the 18 fatalities in 2020, 12 were the result of four shipping accidents, while the remaining six fatalities resulted from five accidents aboard ship. All of the 12 shipping accident fatalities in 2020 involved commercial fishing vessels, highlighting the need to improve commercial fishing safety, an outstanding issue on the TSB Watchlist since its inception in 2010.
In 2020, 925 marine incidents were reported to the TSB, above the total of 948 in 2019, and above the annual 10-year (2010–2019) average of 643. Most (82%) reportable incidents were related to total failure of machinery or technical system.