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Marine transportation

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 2023

Preliminary statistics on marine transportation occurrences in 2023 show that a total of of 1031 marine transportation occurrences (accidents and incidents) were reported to the TSB, a decrease of 15% from the previous year (1212).

Of these occurrences, a total of 237 were marine accidents (199 shipping accidents and 38 accidents aboard ship), a slight decrease from 2022 (244), and 8% below the five-year average (258). Sixty-six of these accidents involved commercial fishing vessels, a decrease from the previous year (74) and below the five-year average (82).

Nine of the 237 accidents were fatal, resulting in 18 fatalities. Ten of these fatalities were from five accidents within the Canadian commercial fishing industry. Commercial fishing is one of the most hazardous occupations in the country. Commercial fishing safety has been on the TSB Watchlist since its inception in 2010.

Additionally, 794 marine incidents were reported, which is a decrease from 2022 (968) and below the five-year average (925). Most reportable incidents (80%) were categorized as “total failure of machinery or technical system.”