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Safety Matters


Our blog discussing workplace safety opportunities in Nova Scotia and around the world.

Stuart MacLean reflects on tragedy at sea


When I heard the news that the search for the five young men aboard the Miss Ally had been suspended, my initial response was as a father. Thinking about the family and friends in the communities of Woods Harbour and Cape Sable Island, I joined with all Nova Scotians in praying for a miracle, that these young men might make it home yet.

Many who know me know that I have made safety awareness for the Nova Scotia fishing industry a top priority for my mandate as CEO of the Workers’ Compensation Board. My focus right now, and the focus of our team at the Workers’ Compensation Board, is on those young men and their families and friends.

Over the past month, Nova Scotians have been faced with unspeakable tragedy; six young men have gone missing at sea: Michael Doucette, Katlin Nickerson, Joel Hopkins, Steven Cole Nickerson, Billy Jack Hatfield, and Tyson Townsend. At a young age, these men have made an unforgettable impact on countless lives as sons, brothers, friends and fathers. They have people who love them, and our hearts go out to them.


But people will fish tomorrow: that we know.  And it is incumbent on all of us to turn over every stone, to answer every unanswered question, to combine all of our collective efforts, to make sure we never again face the news of a fisherman missing at sea. The fishing sector has come a long way in terms of safety awareness, but we need to let this tragedy be the catalyst that moves us to work toward a broader cultural change.

We need to make sure that we continue the conversation about workplace safety in the fishing sector, long after the media has left Woods Harbour, and long after the last editorial is written.

The headline on the front page of the Herald on February 20th read, “Heartbreak at Sea”. My hope, and what I hope you will join me in striving towards, is to never see those words in print again.


Stuart MacLean
CEO, Workers' Compensation Board of Nova Scotia

Interview on Global Maritimes: Q&A: Dangers facing N.S. Fishermen


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