Regulations Amending the Large Fishing Vessel Inspection Regulations: SOR/2022-25

Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 156, Number 5

SOR/2022-25 February 21, 2022


P.C. 2022-132 February 18, 2022

Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Transport, pursuant to subsection 120(1) footnote a of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 footnote b, makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Large Fishing Vessel Inspection Regulations.

Regulations Amending the Large Fishing Vessel Inspection Regulations


1 Section 6 of the Large Fishing Vessel Inspection Regulations footnote 1 is replaced by the following:

6 Sections 10 to 13.1 and 14.1, subsections 15(12) to (12.2) and (15) and sections 19.1, 22.1 and 24 to 27 apply in respect of every existing fishing vessel over 24.4 m in length or 150 tons, gross tonnage, that is not a sailing ship.

2 The Regulations are amended by adding the following after section 14:

High Water Level Detectors in the Bilge

14.1 Each watertight compartment that is not intended to carry liquids and that is located partially or fully below the load water line of a fishing vessel shall be fitted with a high water level detector that is connected to a visual and audible alarm located in the control station of the vessel.

Coming into Force

3 These Regulations come into force on the first anniversary of the day on which they are registered.


(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)


Large fishing vessels are at risk of uncontrolled and undetected flooding of compartments below the waterline when they are not fitted with high water level detectors or alarms.


The Large Fishing Vessel Inspection Regulations (the Regulations) were introduced in 1978 to address the construction and inspection of fishing vessels exceeding 24.4 m in length or 150 gross tonnage (GT) to ensure the safety of navigation of these vessels and their crew.

Vessels are subdivided into a number of watertight compartments for the purpose of limiting the extent of flooding. Depending on the compartment, if flooding is uncontrolled and undetected, it may endanger the vessel. This is what happened to the Nadine, a 37 m fishing vessel that sank in December 1990; only 2 of the 10 crew members are known to have survived. Following the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) investigation into the incident, it was determined that water entered the vessel through unsecured openings and flooded compartments, which gradually reduced the stability of the vessel until it sank. In its 1994 Marine Investigation Report, the TSB recommended that Transport Canada (TC) “require the installation of water level detectors in all compartments below the waterline on large fishing vessels.” At present, this recommendation (M94-06) remains active. The TSB’s safety concerns regarding commercial fishing vessel safety continue to be outlined under the TSB’s Commercial Fishing Safety Watchlist theme.

In response to the TSB recommendation, TC published Ship Safety Bulletin 04/2000: Flooding Detection on Fishing Vessels (SSB), on April 17, 2000, as an interim measure to mitigate undetected flooding. In the SSB, TC recommended

When the SSB was published, the installation of water level detectors in fish holds had not been included in the first recommendation mentioned above due to concern that detectors could be damaged from ice or fish in the holds, or could cause repeated false alarms if not deactivated before ice and fish were loaded into a hold. However, some fish holds also function as dry compartments. In these cases, water level detectors will detect flooding in areas that are not normally meant to hold water. The adoption of water level detectors within cargo holds not meant to carry liquids will allow for the early detection of flooding and will outweigh any concerns about false alarms.


The objective of the amendment is to reduce the risk to large fishing vessels and crew from uncontrolled and undetected flooding of watertight compartments, which can lead to a loss of stability and cause incidents like the one in 1990, where undetected flooding resulted in loss of life.


The amendment to the Regulations requires that water level detectors, connected to an audible and visual alarm in the control station of the vessel, be fitted in all watertight compartments of large fishing vessels below the waterline and not intended to carry liquids.

This adds to the original SSB recommendation by distinguishing between all compartments intended to carry liquids, for which water level detectors are not needed, and those fish holds that function as dry compartments, for which water level detectors are needed.

Regulatory development


TC consulted stakeholders regarding the amendment at the November 2019 and November 2020 national Canadian Marine Advisory Council (CMAC) meetings. Stakeholders that were present at the meetings included, but were not limited to, pilotage authorities, provincial boating associations, academia, non-governmental organizations, ferry operators, other government departments (federal, provincial and municipal), fishing industry, marine-related unions and associations, and the marine industry in Canada at large. Stakeholders were supportive of the amendment and raised no concerns.

The amendment to the Regulations was prepublished in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on May 22, 2021, followed by a 60-day comment period. One comment was received during the comment period, which did not require changes to be made to the amendment. The comment suggested consideration be given to change the application of the Regulations to vessels more than 24 m in length, rather than those that are more than 24.4 m, in order to align with international standards. Transport Canada’s response to the comment signalled the change is outside the scope of the current amendment and would be addressed through a future regulatory amendment.

In 2015, a three-phased approach was initiated to improve fishing vessel safety through regulatory updates. Phase 1, completed in 2017, updated safety equipment and vessel stability requirements, and introduced safe operating procedures for small fishing vessels, replacing the Small Fishing Vessel Inspection Regulations. Phase 2, which is currently underway, includes the amendment in these Regulations. Phase 2 will also include updating requirements for small fishing vessels (24.4 m in length and below, and less than 150 gross tonnage). Finally, Phase 3 will propose amendments to the Large Fishing Vessel Inspection Regulations to bring into force the requirements of the International Maritime Organization’s “Cape Town Agreement of 2012 on the Implementation of the Provisions of the 1993 Protocol relating to the Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels, 1977” for large fishing vessels (greater than 24.4 m in length and greater than 150 gross tonnage), with appropriate Canadian modifications. Part of the work in Phase 3 involves amending all vessel length references to the more standard 24 m. Amending vessel length references is expected to impact the application of current requirements to fishing vessels and necessitate consequential amendments to a variety of standards, Transport Canada publications, and other relevant documents. Therefore, robust consultations will be needed as the amendments are developed. Phase 3 is currently expected to be completed over the next four years.

Modern treaty obligations and Indigenous engagement and consultation

Stakeholders were consulted on the amendment to the Regulations at national CMAC meetings in November 2019 and November 2020. While CMAC meetings generally have some Indigenous participation, there was no direct consultation with Indigenous or Treaty groups specifically. The amendment is not anticipated to impact any Indigenous groups specifically; therefore, no consultations were held outside the aforementioned forum.

Furthermore, in accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Federal Approach to Modern Treaty Implementation, an analysis was undertaken to determine whether the amendment is likely to give rise to modern treaty obligations. The assessment examined the geographic scope and subject matter of the Regulations in relation to the modern treaties in effect, and no modern treaty obligations were identified.

Instrument choice

In order to fully respond to TSB recommendation M94-06, it is necessary to introduce a mandatory requirement in the Regulations to require the installation of water level detectors in all compartments below the waterline that are not intended to carry liquids. Originally, Ship Safety Bulletin (SSB) 04/2000 was issued as an interim measure until the requirements could be worked into a regulatory framework. While the voluntary industry response to the SSB has been satisfactory in the interim, reissuing the SSB so long after the instigating incident would be an ineffective measure to induce further adoption of its recommendations. The only option available to satisfy the TSB recommendation is that TC implement a mandatory measure to address the safety deficiency.

By implementing a mandatory measure through regulations, the requirement is expected to satisfy TSB recommendation M94-06.

Regulatory analysis

The amendment requires that water level detectors be fitted in all watertight compartments of large fishing vessels below the waterline and not intended to carry liquids, and be connected to an audible and visual alarm in the control station of the vessel. The installation of detectors imposes a cost of approximately $88,170 in total (present value in 2019 Canadian dollars, discounted to 2021 at a 7% discount rate) on the owners of these vessels between 2022 and 2031. These costs include the purchase of the water level detectors, other parts and devices that connect the detectors with the alarm system, and the labour cost of installation.

The amendment also assists the crew by allowing for early detection of flooding in the specified compartments so that immediate actions can be taken. As a result, the amendment helps reduce the occurrence of accidents that could involve fatalities, injuries, or damages to vessels and cargo. Due to limited data, only qualitative benefits are provided in the analysis.

Analytical framework

The costs and benefits of the amendment were assessed in accordance with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s (TBS) Policy on Cost-Benefit Analysis. Where possible, impacts are quantified and monetized, with only the direct costs and benefits for stakeholders being considered in the cost-benefit analysis. Qualitative analysis is provided when data is limited or not available.

The benefits and costs associated with the amendment were assessed based on comparing the baseline scenario against the regulatory one. The baseline scenario depicts what is likely to happen in the future if the Government of Canada does not implement the amendment. The regulatory scenario provides information on the outcomes intended as a result of the amendment.

The analysis estimated the impact of the amendment over a 10-year period, from 2022 to 2031, with 2022 as the year when the final amendment to the Regulations is registered. Unless otherwise stated, all costs are expressed in present value in 2019 Canadian dollars, discounted to 2021 at a 7% discount rate.

Affected vessels

The amendment requires owners of large fishing vessels (over 24.4 m in length or 150 GT) to install water level detectors in all watertight compartments below the waterline and not intended to carry liquids. According to TC’s Vessel Registry, footnote 2 154 large fishing vessels were registered in 2020. For the purpose of the cost-benefit analysis, these vessels are grouped into three categories:

According to TC, 104 of the 154 large fishing vessels are considered in Category 1, 35 are in Category 2, and 15 are in Category 3. It is expected that, on average, a Category 1 vessel has four watertight compartments below the waterline, a Category 2 vessel has five, and a Category 3 vessel has seven.

Based on historical vessel registry data, the Canadian large fishing vessel fleet size varied significantly in the 1980s and 1990s, but has remained relatively stable since the early 2000s. Since 2009, on average, six large vessels are retired every year (i.e. closed or suspended registrations), but four new vessels are added (i.e. new registrations) to the fleet every year. By category, there are two new vessels every year in Category 1 and one new vessel every year in Category 2 and 3.

Baseline and regulatory scenarios

Under the baseline scenario, large fishing vessel owners were not required to install water level detectors in watertight compartments below the waterline and not intended to carry liquids. However, subject matter experts at TC expect that owners of existing large fishing vessels have already installed water level detectors in some of these watertight compartments, as recommended by the SSB 04/2000. It is then assumed that all existing vessels have two watertight compartments below the waterline equipped with water level detectors.

It is also assumed that four new large fishing vessels will be registered every year, two of which are in Category 1, one in Category 2, and one in Category 3, based on TC subject matter expert analysis. Further, these new vessels will also have two watertight compartments with water level detectors installed.

Under the regulatory scenario, large fishing vessel owners are required to install water level detectors in all watertight compartments below the waterline and not intended to carry liquids. As a result, for watertight compartments below the waterline that are not equipped with detectors under the baseline scenario, additional installation will be required.

Benefits and costs


The amendment helps reduce the occurrence of accidents that could involve fatalities, injuries, or damages to vessels and cargo. The benefits are presented qualitatively due to limited information; however, the total benefits are likely to exceed the total costs. For example, if the amendment resulted in just one avoided fatality over the 10-year analytical period, the benefits would substantially outweigh the costs.

TSB data shows that only three accidents, including the one involving the Nadine, were reported to have occurred on large fishing vessels due to flooding in watertight compartments below the waterline. All of these accidents, that caused 13 fatalities, occurred in the 1990s. footnote 3 Since the publication of the SSB 04/2000 in the year 2000, no such accident on large fishing vessels has been reported. Therefore, it is challenging to quantify and monetize the benefits associated with the amendment due to limited data. However, the amendment further reduces the possible occurrence of such accidents, as the crew will be able to act immediately should flooding occur in those compartments, which is critical to fix the cause of flooding in time to prevent further damage to the vessel and cargo. In cases of more severe flooding (e.g. flooding that could lead to the loss of vessel stability or sinking), early identification could provide time for the crew to escape or to minimize or avoid injuries or fatalities, and save costs related to search and rescue operations.


As previously described in the baseline and regulatory scenarios, large fishing vessel owners are assumed to have water level detectors already fitted in two of the watertight compartments below the waterline and, therefore, the installation of detectors will only be needed for the rest of the compartments, namely two for a Category 1 vessel, three for a Category 2 vessel, and five for a Category 3 vessel.

Each watertight compartment below the waterline needs to be equipped with a water level detector, an electrical conduit, and a set of marine electrical connectors and glands. In addition, marine electrical cable is needed to connect these items. It is also expected that a watch engineer will perform the installation. Table 1 below presents the costs of installation in detail.

Table 1: Costs of installation
Item Number of items Price Source
Water level detector
  • 2 per Category 1 vessel
  • 3 per Category 2 vessel
  • 5 per Category 3 vessel
$30 per detector table 1 note * TC subject matter experts
Electrical conduit One per detector $30 per conduit TC subject matter experts
Marine electrical connectors and glands One set per detector $15 per set TC subject matter experts
Marine electrical cable 1 per vessel $60 per spool TC subject matter experts
Labour cost 2 hours from a watch engineer per watertight compartment $60.27 per hour table 1 note ** (2019 Canadian dollar) Statistics Canada table 1 note ***

Table 1 note(s)

Table 1 note *

Water level detectors are priced from $10 to $50–$60, $30 was chosen as an average for analysis purposes.

Return to table 1 note * referrer

Table 1 note **

A 25% overhead rate is included in addition to the hourly wage rate.

Return to table 1 note ** referrer

Table 1 note ***

Statistics Canada 2016 Census, occupational code: 2274

Return to table 1 note *** referrer

The costs of installing water level detectors and other components are estimated to be about $88,170 in total. footnote 4 Of these costs, $74,680 will be assumed in 2023 when the amendment comes into force, because all of the existing large fishing vessels will be required to comply with the amendment, and the rest ($13,490) will be assumed when new large fishing vessels are registered in later years.

It is also worthy of note that about half of these costs will be carried by the owners of Category 1 fishing vessels (i.e. over 24.4 m but less than 35 m in length), as they account for about 70% of the Canadian large fishing vessel fleet. In addition, from a regional perspective, most of the cost will be assumed in the Atlantic region (68%), followed by the Pacific region (25%), based on the number of large fishing vessels registered in these areas. The other 7% of the cost will be assumed in Nunavut (4.5%), Quebec (2%) and Manitoba (0.5%).

Small business lens

The small business lens applies, as there are impacts on small businesses associated with the amendment. Based on TC subject matter experts’ analysis, vessel owners who own only one large fishing vessel in Category 1 could be expected to be small businesses, which implies vessel owners of 86 existing large fishing vessels and of two additional vessels per year in the future. It is estimated that small businesses assume 44% of the total estimated cost, or $38,900. footnote 5

No consideration has been given to making this expense less burdensome to small businesses. The amendment directly addresses a critical safety issue and applies equally to all large fishing vessels irrespective of the operator or size of the vessel. This makes flexibility for compliance with the amendment for small businesses impossible, since there are no options for reduced compliance available. Nevertheless, small business operators will, in general, assume less expense than larger operators due to the likelihood that fewer detectors will be needed for their operation.

One-for-one rule

The one-for-one rule does not apply, as there is no incremental change in the administrative burden on business.

Regulatory cooperation and alignment

This amendment is not related to a work plan or commitment. However, the amendment aligns broadly with international standards developed by the International Maritime Organization with regard to water level detectors on bulk carriers. This amendment further supports TC’s work with the TSB to help prevent accidents and loss of life on fishing vessels by addressing TSB recommendation M94-06, which is outstanding and a Watchlist item.

Strategic environmental assessment

In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, a preliminary scan concluded that a strategic environmental assessment is not required.

Gender-based analysis plus

Although no gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) impacts were identified for this amendment, it is worth noting that Canada’s fishing industry primarily employs men. According to Statistics Canada (2006), men make up 66% of Canada’s fishing industry, while the remaining 34% are women. It is important to note that despite this gender discrepancy, TC provisions focus on improving the safety culture within the marine industry for all persons. footnote 6

Implementation, compliance and enforcement, and service standards


The amendment comes into force on the first anniversary of the day on which it is registered.

Compliance and enforcement

Compliance and enforcement of the amendment will be addressed nationally through periodic inspections and/or risk-based inspections. This will not require increased resources, as marine safety inspectors will use the same enforcement tools under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 for periodic and risk-based inspections that range from the issuance of a deficiency notice with established deadlines to make corrections, to the issuance of administrative monetary penalties, or a vessel detention order.


Emilie Létourneau
Acting Manager
National Marine Safety Program
Domestic Vessel and Regulatory Oversight
Marine Safety and Security
Transport Canada
Place de Ville, Tower C
330 Sparks Street, 11th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0N5