In early 2013, the Miss Ally capsized off Southwest Nova Scotia in near hurricane-force winds, killing five lobster fisherman—all young men from the Woods Harbour area. Unfortunately, this tragic incident is not an isolated occurrence. Since 2007, 35 people have died working in Nova Scotia’s commercial fisheries, accounting for almost half of all fishing-industry deaths in Canada.
These statistics are one of the reasons Cory Nickerson, Captain of the Beverly Ann, pushed for increased safety in the fishery and became involved in the Safe at Sea Alliance. “Fishing is dangerous work, but there are absolutely ways we can all make it safer.” Born and raised in Wedgeport, in Yarmouth County, Cory went lobster fishing with his father from an early age. Today, his own son is part of one of Nova Scotia’s most historic occupations.
Nickerson is a founding member of the Safe at Sea Alliance, which includes fishermen, owners, fleet managers, and family members who know firsthand the impact of losing someone at sea. It also brings together government departments (the Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration and the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture), industry groups (FishSafeNS and the Nova Scotia Fisheries Sector Council), and the Workers’ Compensation Board.
As for Nickerson, he always leads by example, putting safety first by routinely running safety drills and by insisting that everyone on his vessel wear a PFD.
"If anybody wants to come fishing on my boat, you have to wear a PFD. End of story."
It is this insistence on safety that has earned him the respect of those in the industry and the commendation of the House of Assembly “for his contribution to sea safety awareness and for the positive impact he has had on the Nova Scotia fish and seafood industry.”