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Marine Safety In Focus


Spring is an exciting time for fish harvesters. Some groundfish and shellfish harvesters are ramping up their effort following April start while others eagerly await opening dates in May and beyond. As many small boat harvesters are heading back onto the water, it is a good time to draw attention to important discussions and research on safety on the Atlantic coast. Fish harvesters face a range of occupational hardships and risks. Working conditions are highly varied, and often hazardous. Tied to the nature of work is the need for workers to sustain maritime industries and their benefits to coastal communities and broader Canadian society. All these concerns beg the question, what makes a fishery safe for fishers?

What makes a safe fishery? A safe fishery is one in which all feasible precautions are taken, risks are mitigates, and fishers feel like they can work safely in their environment. There are a range of hazards and risks to be addressed through governance that advances marine safety in a fishery. The environment alone is the ever-changing ocean the working surface is vessel in near constant motion, and the equipment can weigh tonnes. For these reasons and more, marine safety concerns can not be ignored, some concerns are unfeasible to deal with, for various reasons ranging from cost to space constraints. This still begs the question, however, are we doing enough to make the fishery safe?

Knowing what makes a fishery safe, however, does not answer any questions about what needs to be done to make a fishery safe in practice. Those questions can only be answered through experience and further research into the topic directly. For this reason, we have chosen to feature some recent work being done on marine safety in our Marine Safety Pop Up this month. These works and the question of what makes a safe fishery will help us, when the time comes, to Get Marine Safety Right.

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