Passenger Safety on Small Commercial Boats

Going for a boat ride can be fun and exciting, but accidents can happen. You should be prepared. 

If you're a passenger on a small commercial vessel -- like a charter fishing vessel or tour boat -- here are some safety tips you should know:

  • Small commercial vessel operators are required to provide a safety briefing to all passengers about safety equipment and emergency procedures -- it's the law. Make sure the operator provides this safety briefing, and listen carefully.
  • If there are children in your party, tell the boat operator in advance how many there are, and their ages.
  • Make sure the operator has the proper number of lifejackets, and sufficient lifejackets of the right size for all children on board when you board the vessel.
  • Whenever you're on a boat, know where the lifejackets and survival craft are, and plan what to do in the event of an emergency.
  • You should also ask the boat operator if they have a valid inspection certificate from Transport Canada.

Transport Canada is responsible for the licensing of commercial vessels, including tour boats and river rafts. In addition, the department develops regulations for the safe operation of these vessels. Transport Canada regularly monitors and enforces compliance with these regulations to verify that vessels are properly staffed and able to carry out emergency duties. The department's Marine Safety inspectors have a good knowledge of the shipping industry and practices for ship safety and the protection of our marine environment. Not only do they enforce specific regulations, they are also able to recognize an unsafe situation and provide advice to correct it.

While Transport Canada regulates commercial operators to verify they meet all applicable safety standards and regulations, safety is a shared responsibility. Passengers should also take precautionary measures to enhance their own safety while out on a tour.

Next time you board a commercial vessel, make sure you get the information you need to survive an emergency.

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