Fishing Vessel Stability Simulator launched at Memorial University's Marine Institute
Friday, November 30, 2012

The Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters and the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University introduced the Fishing Vessel Stability Simulator today, making it the first simulator of its kind to demonstrate the fundamental principles of vessel stability using a desktop computer.

The ultimate goal is to provide fish harvesters, throughout Canada, with the means to learn the concepts of fishing vessel stability, apply them to virtual vessels and to subsequently save lives.

"This is a very innovative learning tool that uses cutting edge technology," said John Sutcliffe, executive director of the Canadian Council of Professional Fish Harvesters. "The collaboration between fish harvesters and the Marine Institute has produced a program that will make a major contribution to addressing the most critical safety issue for vessel operators in our coastal and inland waters."

Available in English and French, the simulation software features 3-D interactive simulations, gaming scenarios, video, vessel diagrams, animations, narration and a user's guide. This unique approach to training provides a rich learning resource for fish harvesters to interact with the material, testing what they learn in simulated fishing operations.

"Vessel stability in our fishing fleet in Newfoundland and Labrador and throughout Canada has been a major issue for the industry and has resulted in the loss of many vessels and lives," said Glenn Blackwood, vice-president, Memorial University (Marine Institute). "The Marine Institute leveraged our partners' capabilities with our own innovative curriculum development and marine simulation expertise to create one of the most valuable educational tools for fish harvesters with which we can directly affect safe vessel operations."

The development, production and distribution of the Fishing Vessel Stability Simulator was funded by the National Search and Rescue Secretariat - New Initiatives Fund (SAR-NIF) (recommended by Transport Canada), the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the Department of Innovation, Business and Rural Development, the Research & Development Corporation (RDC), the Canadian Centre for Fisheries Innovation and the Professional Fish Harvesters Certification Board in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"Transport Canada is proud to support industry-led efforts that benefit fish harvesters," said Donald Roussel, director general of the department's Marine Safety and Security Directorate. "The stability e-simulator will help improve the safety at sea of fish harvesters through education and awareness."

ACOA is investing just over $250,000 in this project.  ACOA's support will help make fishing safer for harvesters and offer an innovative product that can be marketed on a global basis, thereby further developing the ocean technology sector in Newfoundland and Labrador.

"Innovative projects such as this next-generation simulation software are important to the long term economic well-being of our province," said Glenn Janes, chief executive officer of RDC. "Through this investment, RDC is helping build this province's reputation as a place where technologies can be developed for resource-based industries that want to expand their abilities to operate in harsh environments."  

RDC is investing a total of $136,751 into the project.

CCFI has been involved in the e-simulation project from its inception. "CCFI is proud to have participated in this project," said Bob Verge, managing director, CCFI. "It is a good example of an innovative approach to a long-standing, significant problem within the fishery. We believe the e-simulator will be effective in building on the industry's skill levels in the area of safety and vessel stability."

Owners, masters and crewmembers can study at home at their own pace in a safe environment. The easy-to-use simulator is divided into six modules, guiding the user through more advanced safety and stability concepts and applying their knowledge in realistic, gaming exercises at each level. Fish harvesters will develop critical thinking skills and be able to analyze constantly changing stability conditions. The program is able to simulate fishing vessels up to 85 feet long and fishing operations that are typical of the major fisheries throughout Canada.

The multimedia content and user interface were produced by Memorial University's Distance Education, Learning and Teaching Support and the Marine Institute's Centre for Marine Simulation and Virtual Marine Technology.

The final product is available for download at and will support use by independent learners and by groups in formal training settings with professional facilitators. Users will also be able to provide feedback on the use and effectiveness of the program.