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SEA-NL renews call for improved search & rescue for Labrador; fed inquiry into fishing vessel safety

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, Nov. 4th, 2022

Labrador's entire coastline is void of a single primary dedicated maritime or air resource station to conduct search and rescue (SAR) missions, one of the largest geographical areas in Canada without one.

Seaward Enterprises Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (SEA-NL) joins in the renewed call for more search and rescue resources for Labrador and a federal inquiry into fishing vessel safety — encouraging other stakeholders like the FFAW-Unifor to do the same.

“Safety at sea is a life-and-death issue that demands all hands on deck,” says Merv Wiseman, a member of SEA-NL’s board of directors, and an outspoken advocate for search and rescue/fishing vessel safety.

“The lives of mariners off Labrador are as important as the lives of mariners off Newfoundland, and search and rescue resources must reflect that.”

This past May SEA-NL wrote Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to formally request a commission of inquiry into fishing vessel safety, and search and rescue response in this province.

The same call was echoed again this week by Janette Russell, the mother of Marc Russell, who disappeared in the waters off Mary's Harbour with crew mate Joey Jenkins in September 2021 aboard the 28-foot boat Island Lady.

In a keynote address to a symposium organized by the NL Fish Harvesters Safety Association in St. John’s, Russell called for a federal inquiry into fishing vessel safety, and for the Canadian military to dedicate primary air resources to 5 Wing Goose Bay.

“All hands connected to the fishery in any way must come together for this to happen,” said Wiseman, who was initially invited to the symposium, although the invitation was later rescinded by the FFAW.

In response to SEA-NL’s letter to the Prime Minister, Julie Gascon, Transport Canada’s Director General, Marine Safety and Security, replied in July to say there are currently no plans and no need for an inquiry.

Given studies into DFO policy and maritime search and rescue already carried out by parliamentary committees, Gascon wrote “… it is felt another full inquiry, focused solely on Newfoundland and Labrador is unnecessary at this time.”

Said Wiseman, “The bureaucratic response does not reflect the live-and-death need for search and rescue. We await the Prime Minister’s response.”


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