RESEARCHER OF THE MONTH
Meet Dr. Emily Reid-Musson, OFI Module I Post-Doctoral Fellow
Mechanisms to support Operational Health & Safety (OHS) in fisheries are often successful when they're informed and developed by harvesters, tapping into harvesters' knowledge, relationships and values. Co-management is a potential model for how to approach fisheries OHS, including managing weather risks.
Environment and Climate Change Canada Office; September, 2019; ©Emily Reid-Musson
I am a postdoctoral researcher in Geography and with SafetyNet at Memorial University of Newfoundland working in on occupational health and safety and fisheries. I have a PhD in Geography from the University of Toronto and a previous postdoctoral fellowship in Public/Occupational Health completed at the University of Waterloo. I am an interdisciplinary work and labour researcher and my broad research program focuses on work, health and mobility in non-standard workplaces. Methodologically, I am primarily a qualitative researcher; the research tools I have used include in-depth interviews, focus groups, online content analysis, mobile methods, and archival, policy and document analysis.
What is your research about? What are you currently working on?
My research with Dr. Joel Finnis and Dr. Barb Neis focuses on small-scale fisheries and how the marine forecast helps harvesters manage and alleviate the risks of working at sea. We conducted a series of in-depth interviews with fish harvesters (lobster and crab primarily) and marine forecasters in Nova Scotia in 2019, as well as with resource managers and fisheries representatives. One article from these findings is soon to be submitted for peer review, and focuses on weather briefings on lobster season openings, in which meteorologists help inform harvester-manager decisions about whether to delay or open the fisheries in light of weather conditions. We suggest that the briefings have supported fishing safety and access through knowledge bridging between meteorologists and harvesters.
What drew you to explore this topic originally?
From my prior knowledge of work and health issues in Canada, I was aware that fisheries was one of the most dangerous sectors/workplaces. There are so many factors at play in fishing OHS and it is very much a key governance problem. Working with Dr Finnis and Dr. Neis on this specific study was an opportunity to bring my qualitative skills to address an under-explored aspect of fisheries OHS -- weather hazards and the marine forecast. Fisheries is governed by various regulatory frameworks and agencies; the challenge of studying this topic and working with non-academic partners and Dr. Finnis and Dr Neis were all particularly appealing to me.
What is the most interesting aspect of your research? Share something you have discovered through your research so far?
Beyond the challenges of fisheries OHS, I learned that the practice and profession of meteorology is a fascinating area. The work of forecasters in predicting the weather depends on numerical weather systems (aka algorithms) combined with forecasters' own interpretive knowledge and skills. Predicting weather conditions in marine contexts is extremely challenging, and particularly so in the North Atlantic. Automation is also relevant to forecasting work because the weather models are constantly improving; consequently there are important changes afoot in meteorological work practices.
How does your research address present day fisheries issues in Newfoundland and Labrador and elsewhere? How does it help inform governance responses for coastal communities in the province in the context of change?
This research is in partnership with fisheries safety organizations and Environment Canada, and builds on previous research that identified this area as a key fisheries OHS issue. Because it is informed by the priorities and needs of these partners, it will be able to shed light on and build capacity to address this key domain of fisheries OHS. There are limited opportunities for small-scale fisheries actors to engage and communicate their needs directly with ECCC and the hope is that this will support this interaction and engagement.
What is the one thing you would like the general public to know about your research?
Mechanisms to support OHS in fisheries are often successful when they're informed and developed by harvesters, tapping into harvesters' knowledge, relationships and values. Co-management is a potential model for how to approach fisheries OHS, including managing weather risks.
What are the next steps and what do you want to achieve with your research?
As our interviewing was winding down, COVID-19 appeared on the horizon; we are developing a survey on harvester perspectives on fishing health and safety in the context of COVID-19. We are also working on initiating a new series of interviews with OFI partners in Norway and hopefully, new partners in Spain. Other articles based on our 2019 research are also in progress.
What do you like doing when you are not working on research?
I try to get outside as much as possible and enjoy walking, hiking, biking, swimming and cross-country skiing. I was able to get a veggie garden going this year too.
Emily Reid-Musson is an interdisciplinary work and labour researcher with training in human geography (PhD, 2017, Geography, University of Toronto) and public/occupational health (Postdoctoral Fellow, School of Public Health and Health Systems, University of Waterloo, 2017-2019). Her research focuses on workers’ experiences in non-standard workplaces, including migrant, mobile, and self-employed forms of work, with a particular emphasis on Canadian agriculture, and more recently, Atlantic Canada fisheries. Another area of focus is labour policy and regulation, including workplace health and safety. She is a qualitative researcher and contributes to social and geographical theory, particularly feminist geography and political economy. Her research has been published in human geography and labour and employment journals, including Environment and Planning A and New Technology, Work, and Employment. With Dr. Joel Finnis and Dr. Barb Neis, she is currently conducting OFI research on the ways small-scale fish harvesters use and interpret weather information to manage weather hazards in their work at sea.