Mermaid Marine Products

Statement Regarding Life Jackets/PFDs and Fishing Vessel Safety Regulations

From Robert J. Freake, Marine Safety Inspector, Transport Canada

From a Transport Canada Marine Safety & Security (TCMSS) point of view, in accordance with the Fishing Vessel Safety Regulations (FVSR), when there is a possibility of jeopardizing safety (aka risk of drowning) the Fishing Vessel (FV) owner is required to ensure that a life jacket or personal flotation device is WORN (ref. FVSR s.3.09). In my opinion, not many fishers will wear a life jacket when working on deck, so the PFD option will most likely be the option chosen. If a person falls overboard without a life jacket or PFD on, then they will be non-compliant with the FVSR and the Canada Shipping Act 2001.

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) that are carried on-board a fishing vessel (FV), must be a Transport Canada approved PFD, that is highly visible and fitted with reflective tape and a whistle. This is outlined in the Fishing Vessel Safety Regulations (FVSR) sections 3.09, 3.2 & 3.25 (https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/PDF/C.R.C.,_c._1486.pdf).

If the FV owner operates a FV under 12m in length and within 25nm from shore, and wishes to substitute life jackets for PFDs—which means the vessel will not have any life jackets on-board—then in addition to the TC approval, the highly visible, reflective tape and a whistle, the PFD must also have a minimum of 100 newtons of buoyancy and must be worn. This can be found in the FVSR section 3.25(2).

Any FV in NS that has this PFD on their vessel will meet BOTH the TC requirements and the NS Department Of Labour requirements. The ‘when to wear’ portion of the question should come from the province since their requirements are more specific than ours. Meeting the provincial wear requirement will meet the TC requirements for NS.

What is TC approved?

If a PFD has TC approval, it will be identified on a tag on the inside of the product. There will also be a Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) or Underwriter Laboratory (UL) number on the tag. The approval standards will be: CAN/CGSB-65.11-88 or UL 1180. What must be remembered here is that the FVSR ALSO requires for fishing vessels that, along with the TC#, the PFD must be highly visible, fitted with reflective tape and a whistle in order to be acceptable for use on a fishing vessel. It is possible to get a TC approved PFD without the highly visible, reflective tape, and whistle but these CANNOT be used on a fishing vessel. These would be acceptable for a passenger vessel or work boat but not a FV, since this requirement is, as stated above, specifically outlined in the FVSR section 3.2(3)(a) & (b).

There is another option for approval, and that is DFO/CCG but I would not expect to see many of these still available. This comes from pre-1995 approvals when TC and CCG were within the same department. An older approval that might still exist out there somewhere, but none I have seen in many years.

The FVSR section 3.2(1) provides reference to the Small Vessel Regulations (https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/PDF/SOR-2010-91.pdf) where the approval requirements/standards (listed above) can be found.

To summarize:

Fishing Vessel (Any Length / Tonnage) fitted with Life Jackets

  • Transport Canada Approved PFD – Canadian General Standards Board CAN/CGSB-65.11-88 or Underwriters Laboratories Standard UL 1180
  • Highly Visible Colour (if inflatable, internal bladder needs to be high visibility, external doesn’t have to be)
  • Retro-reflective tape, fitted
  • Whistle, fitted (can be added after if needed)
  • Still required to carry life jackets when vessel is over 12m in length operating beyond 25nm from shore

Fishing Vessel (under 12m / within 25nm from shore) NOT fitted with Life Jackets

  • Transport Canada Approved PFD – Canadian General Standards Board CAN/CGSB-65.11-88 or Underwriters Laboratories Standard UL 1180
  • Highly Visible Colour (if inflatable, internal bladder needs to be high visibility, external doesn’t have to be)
  • Retro-reflective tape, fitted
  • Whistle, fitted (can be added after if needed)
  • Minimum 100 newtons of buoyancy

Any questions, from anyone, can come to me directly, at the contact info below.

Regards,
Robert J. Freake

Marine Safety Inspector
Transport Canada, Marine Safety and Security / Government of Canada
45 Alderney Dr. Dartmouth, NS B2Y 4K2
Rob.Freake@tc.gc.ca
Cell: 902-222-3900 / TTY: 1-888-675-6863

Expert Maritime
Transport Canada, Sécurité de la Sûreté Maritimes / Gouvernement du Canada
45 Ch. Alderney, Dartmouth, NE B2Y 4K2
Rob.Freake@tc.gc.ca
Cell: 902-222-3900 / ATS : 1-888-675-6863