Tragic start to food fishery

Andrew Robinson
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Man dead after boat capsizes near Bell Island

A sad story emerged from the first day of the annual food fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador.

A boat capsized near Bell Island late Saturday morning. Bell Island RCMP confirmed later that day one of the three men who was in the boat died.

RNC officers and members of the Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s volunteer fire department gather on the wharf in Portugal Cove on Saturday morning after three individuals were taken to shore after their boat capsized around 11 a.m. They were rushed to shore by two other boats on the water, including the one pictured, and were given immediate medical treatment before being taken to hospital by Eastern Health paramedics. One of the men died. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Police did not confirm the cause of death, which is still under investigation.

According to a news release, the men left Bell Island in a small open boat earlier that morning to take part in the food fishery.

A call about the capsized boat was made to Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) Halifax at 11:30 a.m.

Capt. Kimberly Lemaire said JRCC sent out a call for assistance to boats in the area, but it was called off approximately 10 minutes later after word that a boat had already rescued three people and reached shore.

All three men were transported to hospital once they reached the wharf in Portugal Cove. Lemaire said life-jackets were among the items recovered from the water.

Danika Crossman, a boating and water safety specialist with the Canadian Red Cross who supervises the Atlantic region, emphasized the need for people taking part in the food fishery to be aware of the risks present when navigating coastal waters.

“With the food fishery right now, we’re really trying to get people to come and take advantage of our services,” she said, referring to her organization’s boating and water safety programs.

While noting it may be unfair to make assumptions about what took place with Saturday’s boating accident, Crossman said 88 per cent of drownings result from people not wearing life-jackets or doing so improperly. According to Canadian Red Cross data, less than 50 per cent of Canadians who own a boat always wear a life-jacket.

“It’s about taking those precautions and making sure you have the right equipment,” she said.

On average, 23 people drown in Newfoundland and Labrador on an annual basis. From 1991-2010, there were 470 water-related fatalities recorded in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Canadian Red Cross continues to operates it program to loan personal floatation devices to those who need them. They can be used free-of-charge or by donation for up to two weeks.

Two boating safety officers with the Canadian Red Cross have been touring the province to conduct demonstrations on how to save yourself and others when your boat capsizes, as well as how to properly wear a life-jacket. They will be attending events in Central Newfoundland this week.

The food fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador continues this summer until Aug. 10. It resumes in the fall from Sept. 20-28.

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: Canadian Red Cross

Geographic location: Bell Island, Halifax, Portugal Cove Newfoundland and Labrador Atlantic Newfoundland and Labrador.The Canadian Red Cross Central Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Brian
    July 21, 2014 - 23:04

    Safety first no matter the reason for being out on the water. Teach someone else should the opportunity present itself while you are out there. We must look out for each other!

  • Play safe
    July 21, 2014 - 15:56

    Stop blaming the government for people drowning in a boat without a PFD on. People want to use this accident to get the food fishery lengthened which is a real sad thing.

  • Marty
    July 21, 2014 - 08:08

    This was a very tragic incident in what was supposed to be an enjoyable day. Accidents do happen and hopefully this is reminder to everyone going out on the water, for any reason, to wear a properly fitted life jacket. It is pointless to have PFDs in a boat if you aren't wearing them - no time to put them on when a boat swamps or capsizes . I also saw a video yesterday of 3 people in an open boat whale watching near Cottrell's Cove. A pod of Orcas came very near the small boat, one even swam under it! Makes for exciting video but disturbing that people in the boat weren't wearing life jackets.

    • brian
      July 21, 2014 - 23:00

      Safety first regardless of the reason for being out on the water. Take the time to teach others should the opportunity present itself while you are out there.