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Safety and Health in the Fishing Industry

Report for discussion at the Tripartite Meeting on Safety and Health in the Fishing Industry Geneva, 13-17 December 1999 International Labour Office Geneva Copyright ©2000 International Labour Organization (ILO)

Cover photographs: ILO/J. Maillard and Leif Magne Vik To purchase this document, click here

1. An overview of the world fishing industry
The fishing industry (or fishing sector) is extraordinarily diverse. At one extreme are large, multinational joint ventures, utilizing large factory trawlers and numerous other vessels, employing thousands of workers on several oceans. At the other are small, wooden canoes and other boats used by individual fishermen(1) to catch sufficient food for their families and perhaps more to sell in their local communities. Most fishing operations fall somewhere between these extremes. The technology used can be simple and traditional, or it may be highly sophisticated, incorporating the most advanced electronic and other equipment. Some parts of the fishing industry are under social and economic pressures resulting from declines or sudden disappearances in certain stocks of fish (and other living marine resources) due to overfishing and other reasons and to loss of access to fishing grounds (see "International developments" below). This has led to some structural adjustment with serious social implications for groups of fishermen.

Employment(2)
The most comprehensive survey of the number of persons engaged in fishing has been carried out by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).(3) The FAO estimates that between 1970 and 1990, the number of people engaged in fishing and fish farming doubled from roughly 13 million to 28.5 million. Of the 28.5 million, roughly 15 million fishermen (or "fishers") are employed aboard decked or undecked fishing vessels operating in the

marine capture fisheries, of which more than 90 per cent are working on vessels less than 24 metres in length. This report focuses on these 15 million fishermen.

Food, community and economy
Fish, including shellfish, are a critical food resource. In 1996, the amount of fish available for human consumption was almost 16 kg per person.(4) For the period 1987-89, fish consumption as a percentage of total animal protein consumption was: North America 6.6 per cent, Western Europe 9.7 per cent, Africa 21.1 per cent, Latin America and the Caribbean 8.2 per cent, Middle East 7.8 per cent, Far East 27.8 per cent, Pacific Basin 21.7 per cent.(5) Without fishing, some communities and whole regions would find it difficult, if not impossible, to support the local population, at least without substantial government assistance. Fishing is not simply a job but is a way of life with its own traditions and values. The FAO estimates that in 1996 the value of fish and fishery exports was US$52.5 billion. For developing countries, there was a net trade surplus in fish and fishery products of US$16.6 billion in 1996.(6) In some countries, fishing is a major part of the national economy. In Iceland it represents nearly 20 per cent of GDP; in Senegal it has become increasingly important as production increased from 50,000 tonnes in 1965 to 436,000 tonnes in 1996, an average increase of 7.5 per cent per year.(7) The fishing industry is global. The increased popularity of fish and other seafood in wealthier countries, where consumers can pay a higher price, coupled with improvements in preserving, processing and transporting the catch, has also led to many locally caught fish from the developing world to end up on tables in the developed world. In 1995, developed countries accounted for 85 per cent of total fish imports (by value).(8)

Production (the catch)
In 1996, production from world capture fisheries(9) reached 87.1 million tonnes (compared with 17 million tonnes in 1950, 34.9 million tonnes in 1961 and 68.3 million tonnes in 1983). Growth has since slowed. In 1996, the 12 top producing countries (in decreasing order) were: China, Peru, Chile, Japan, United States, Russian Federation, Indonesia, India, Thailand, Norway, Republic of Korea and Iceland. The first eight of these countries alone accounted for half of the marine catch, which in turn was 90 per cent of all production by marine capture fisheries (with the remaining 10 per cent coming from inland fisheries).(10) The FAO has estimated that about 44 per cent of major fish stocks are fully exploited and about 16 per cent are overfished. Another 6 per cent are considered depleted and 3 per cent are recovering from excessive fishing pressure.(11) Earlier projections of world fishery production in 2010 ranged between 107 and 144 million tonnes, with most of the increase expected to come from aquaculture. The contribution from capture fisheries will depend on some further development and on the effectiveness of fisheries management. Improved management of currently overfished stocks could provide an increase of between 5 and 10 million tonnes, whereas continued overfishing could lead to a decline in production.(12)

Future employment in the marine fishing sector may therefore be affected by the overall availability of fish, as well as how the availability of those fish is divided among the various groups of fishermen (e.g. artisanal and small-scale versus large trawlers; developing versus developed world).

World fishing fleet
According to the FAO,(13) the total world tonnage of fishing vessels was 27,990,000 gross registered tonnage (grt) (1,258,200 vessels) in 1995, up from 12,368,000 grt (594,000 vessels) in 1970, 17,577,000 grt (823,100 vessels) in 1980, 19,973,000 grt (983,400 vessels) in 1985 and 22,810,000 grt (1,201,300 vessels) in 1990. The 30 top countries and areas in 1995, in decreasing order by grt, were: Russian Federation; China; Japan; United States; India; Republic of Korea; Taiwan, China; Ukraine; Democratic Republic of Korea; Spain; Canada; Indonesia; Mexico; Thailand; Panama; Norway; Italy; United Kingdom; Malaysia; Argentina; Morocco; Peru; Pakistan; Poland; Netherlands; France; Chile; Philippines; Cuba; and Lithuania. The figure below, based on FAO data, gives the distribution of decked fishing vessels by size and clearly shows that the vast majority of the world's fishing vessels are under 25 grt.

In 1995, 46.1 per cent of the world fishing fleet(14) was over 20 years old. This age profile is increasing(15) -- Lloyd's Fleet Statistics for 1996 lists the average age of the fish catching vessels at 20 years old.(16) In 1995 and 1996 there was a sharp decrease in the number of new vessels. However, 1997 data showed an increase in construction. Fifteen per cent of vessels constructed between 1991 and 1995 were registered in "open registers" (Honduras, Liberia, Cyprus and Panama).(17) The FAO has estimated that 5 per cent of fishing vessels in the 100150 grt range are in open registers, increasing to 14 per cent of fishing vessels over 4,000 grt.(18)

International developments

a fishing vessel may be boarded and inspected on the high seas for compliance with conservation and management measures for straddling and highly migratory fish stocks. which was opened for signature in 1982. UNCLOS entered into force on 16 November 1994. certain countries extended their exclusive economic zones to the 200 mile limit (e. There is a need for retraining and alternative employment opportunities for displaced fishermen. 12 in 1958. licensing of fishermen. FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries The Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Article 62. particularly in the EEZs of developing countries. adopted at the sixth session of the United Nations Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks held in 1995. and are having. a major impact on where and how fishing takes place. paragraph 4.). others have been forced from their former fishing grounds. provides that: "Nationals of other States fishing in the exclusive economic zone shall comply with the conservation measures and with the other terms and conditions established in the laws and regulations of the coastal State. the list is not exhaustive. Some vessels have been deployed elsewhere. While some distant-water fleets continue to maintain access through quotas on catches and through joint ventures with coastal state enterprises.g. As fishing vessels have a life cycle of up to 30 years. it may take quite a few years for the industry to adjust to these new circumstances.(19) The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).g. regulation of fishing seasons. International Conventions.The world's fisheries have come under increasing control. while others have been sold to coastal States or scrapped. Under certain conditions and restrictions. Codes and activities have had. This gives coastal States the authority to manage fisheries (an estimated 90 per cent of the fish stocks) within this new jurisdiction. etc. The Code provides principles and standards applicable to the . established a new regime governing the exclusive economic zones (EEZs). Iceland extended its fishing limits to four miles in 1952. Though it does not specifically include safety or living and working conditions. was adopted by an FAO Conference held in 1995. aims to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks through effective implementation of the relevant provisions of UNCLOS. The Agreement also gives non-governmental organizations access to meetings of subregional and regional fisheries management organizations or arrangements. 50 in 1972 and then to 200 in 1975). Agreement for the implementation of the provisions of UNCLOS Relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks The Agreement. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea In the 1960s and 1970s. Agreements." This Article lists subject areas to which coastal state laws and regulations may relate (e. "Utilization of living resources". The following are examples. It spells out the duties of flag States to ensure that fishing vessels flying their flags comply with its provisions. which is voluntary.

management and development of all fisheries. concerning repatriation of fishermen). Many vessels process the catch on board and are equipped with effective fish-finding . local economies and whole fishing communities. Chapter 2 includes a discussion of the possible relationship between fisheries management and fisherman safety. The OECD is seeking to assess the possible social and employment implications of moving to responsible fisheries and to identify policy options to deal with the effects of these implications on its members and to overcome. The Code encourages port States to check fishing vessels for compliance with subregional. Such efforts have included restricting fishing seasons. Changes in technology and operations(22) The last 50 years have seen rapid and major changes in the development of the fishing industry. certain aspects may be of concern to the ILO. The work is scheduled for completion in late 1999. The improvement and modernization of boats and fishing equipment have increased fishing productivity and efficiency and affected the working conditions and lives of fishermen. the associated adjustment problems. This involves four related studies: an evaluation of the potential gains and costs involved in the transition to responsible fisheries. aquaculture. processing and trade of fish and fishery products. including vessel owners and representatives of fishermen's organizations. the implications of postharvesting policies and practices on responsible fishing. have a voice in the management process. fisheries research and the integration of fisheries into coastal area management. It also includes references to certain ILO standards (e. Further impetus was given to the Code when the FAO Ministerial Meeting on Fisheries (Rome. and also covers the capture. fishing operations.g. Technical developments have also taken place in fish handling and processing and the location of processing. It reflects many of the provisions of UNCLOS and the Agreement for the implementation of the provisions of UNCLOS Relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (see above). health and conditions of work on board fishing vessels. in some cases. regional or global conservation and management measures or with internationally agreed minimum standards for the prevention of pollution and for safety. and the impact on employment. or at least ease. March 1999) adopted the Rome Declaration on the Implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.(21) Developments in fisheries management There are growing efforts to manage fisheries in such a way as to preserve fish stocks and protect certain marine life and. the distribution of access to fisheries. the impact on fisheries resource sustainability of government financial transfers. to distribute the catch among different groups of fishermen. and the social implications of responsible fisheries. While fisheries management issues fall at the international level within the mandate of the FAO.conservation. limiting the "total allowable catch" and setting individual quotas. such as the degree to which fishermen.(20) OECD work on the economic impact of the transition to responsible fisheries The Committee for Fisheries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is carrying out a substantial programme of work entitled "The economic impact of the transition to responsible fisheries".

On trawlers. the fitting of engines in boats. especially in developed countries. Special gear (e. fishermen have pulled their gear and fish aboard by hand (many still do). For most of history. leading to massive fishing gear which in turn requires more powerful deck equipment. There is increased pressure to fish in a manner which avoids incidental by-catch or harm to certain forms of marine life. unwanted species. work pressure has increased. were often discarded at sea.e. fishing methods and preserving the catch. set tracks and locate fishing equipment with relatively inexpensive receivers. a task requiring strength and endurance. The development of factory trawlers. improvements in automation have since led to a reduction in manual labour associated with processing and stowing the catch. Initially. headlines on fishing gear can also be fitted with sounders and temperature sensors which permit fishermen to aim the trawl and to ensure efficient entry of fish into the net. processing and storage. The necessity of providing a quality product has had a major impact on fishing operations. Sophisticated monitors on the bridge can provide a clear presentation of what is happening below. have experienced technical improvements in boat design. have dramatically increased the power available on deck.g. led to the catch being frozen on board and to the increased automation of fish processing. Satellite systems are also being used to monitor some fishing operations. Small-scale fishermen. all the way to the original harvesting area. for example. significantly eased the labour of many fishermen. no fishing close to seal rookeries) are now familiar fishing concerns. Sonar and echo sounder technology have enhanced fishermen's ability not only to find fish but to distinguish between species. stored and marketed or those with little or no market value. However. Not long ago. whether simply those that could not be profitably processed. Some countries require that seafood products can be traced along the chain of sales and transportation. turtle excluder devices) and restrictions on fishing operations (e.(23) Communications. Precise navigation has been made much easier by satellite navigation using the Global Positioning System (GPS). i. It has become increasingly important to ensure that gear is not left too long in . heavier and more powerful equipment may lead to more serious accidents. beginning in the 1950s. as well as sophisticated navigational aids. Changes in technology have not only affected fishermen on large vessels. and even to the fishermen responsible for the first handling.g. With GPS. such ships required a substantial number of dedicated fish-processing workers. however. fishing gear. In some cases. then electricity and now primarily hydraulics. including safety communications. it is possible to establish a vessel's exact position.equipment and fishing gear. This is no longer an accepted practice. aids to navigation. At-sea processing has allowed for large catches. have improved considerably. Advances in satellite communications have influenced not only fishing safety but also other communications and operations. Consumers are demanding a higher quality product. Steam. Assistance can be obtained by communicating with fishing analysts ashore who can provide information using satellites and other sources and predict where the species sought may be found. fish that are fresh (or which have been quickly frozen) and have suffered little or no damage during catching. The invention of the power block. particularly in industrialized fishing.

The employer-worker relationship(24) While there has been some success in shifting fishermen to stable and formal contractual arrangements approaching those of workers ashore. Icing and freezing at a rapid pace can also influence working conditions and in particular safety (see Chapter 2). Oral contracts may make it difficult to seek redress for pay-related problems. In developed countries. The agreements themselves often reflect traditions which have their origins in artisanal fisheries. The earnings incentive encourages the crew to improve productivity. there are generally more formal employment relationships. Crew and owner must together cover certain operating expenses which are deducted from the gross proceeds obtained from the sale of the catch. The share system(26) The traditional system of remuneration in the fishing industry is the sharing of the catch. This can affect the rhythm of work. The net proceeds are then divided among the boat owner and the members of the crew according to an agreed formula. In large-scale fishing enterprises. fishermen are paid based on a share of the catch yet are also guaranteed a minimum wage. or may be a casual labourer without any particularly strong links to the owner. they generally have the benefit of being unionized and covered by collective agreements. This includes self-employed fishermen. In the coastal zones of developing countries. are engaged only partly in fishing and derive the rest of their income from agricultural or other occupations. many fishermen are also employed in the small-scale fishing sector (see description later in this chapter) and may work under informal or casual employment arrangements. may have some other long-term traditional arrangement with the owner. The fishermen's income continues to depend on the size of the catch and the proceeds . and fishermen who have no formal employment relationship with their employer. This can lead to periods when the crew is underemployed and others when the crew works excessive hours.the water and that fish are not left too long before being cleaned and stored. fishermen may be excluded from such provisions because of the sharing arrangements peculiar to the fishing industry. although there are substantial industrialized fishing activities. In countries where employer-worker relationships are normally recognized by legislation. health care and other benefits enjoyed by many shoreside workers. the employees of very small fishing enterprises employing one or two fishermen on either a regular or casual basis. Many fishermen. The risk is shared by the fishing vessel owners and the members of the crew. most fishermen are in the artisanal small-scale sector. Variations in the catch make it difficult to estimate an optimum number of crew for a vessel. A fisherman may be the owner or a member of the same household as the owner. In order to maximize their share of the proceeds.(25) This exclusion can lead to difficulties in obtaining unemployment insurance. fishermen tend to operate with as few crew members as possible. the majority still belong to the "informal" sector. Although most fishermen are usually at least partly paid according to the share system. Sometimes. as noted earlier in this chapter.

but the sharing is usually done before." More light and space for the crew has been created by raising the mess area to provide bigger windows. in the contract of engagement or in the relevant legislation or collective agreement. Most owners have realized that decent conditions are needed to attract. despite the close proximity to the galley.1).Fishing News International (London).1 An easier life for the crew* "We must invest in the facilities for the crew to make life easier for them and to keep them aboard. the deduction of operating costs. and crewmen can wash off their dining plates and put them in a dishwasher in the messroom. They also receive a share of the catch calculated on the basis of the gross proceeds from its sale. bedroom and day room/office. In some operations. A fridge and microwave are sited in the messroom. in inhuman conditions. fishermen receive both a regular salary and a share of the catch. while there are boot warmers and clothes hangers in a room which has direct access to both the processing deck and the trawl deck.from its sale. all cabins have a shower. rather than after. well-equipped and comfortable to those that are extremely cramped and unhealthy. Separate washing and drying machines are fitted to deal with personal and working clothes.2).2 Not such an easy life for some* "The fishermen are packed in boats with the complicity of local agents. from staterooms. Living conditions at sea Accommodation on fishing vessels covers the full range of conditions. In addition. sustain and retain a good crew (see box 1. The members of the crew receive a fixed salary which is stipulated in the charter party. The captain has his own shower room. Accommodation obviously also varies in accordance with the economic situation and the length of time the vessel is expected to remain at sea. messrooms and recreational spaces that are modern. toilet. Box 1. A private crew's telephone room is provided and the cabins are arranged with five on trawl deck level and seven below. July 1998. stereo system and are equipped for TV. However. poor conditions prevail on many fishing vessels (see box 1. * Description of accommodation facilities on a Spanish-built wet fish stern trawler built for Norwegian owners -. despite . Box 1.

others fish in Vietnamese. The following are examples. formal education. Muro-ami fishing involves a large number of swimmers and divers who move a bag net with two detachable wings in order to catch reef fish -.(28) In Indonesia. safety or morals of children. Children are also employed in deep-sea pearl diving in the Aru Islands of South East Maluku.(29) Child labour in the fishing sector is sometimes found in developed countries. and help in drafting appropriate laws and regulations.. children have worked in the fishing industry in Gempol Sewu on the coast of Kabupaten Kendal in Central Java. The fishermen work in these conditions for 70 days without rest and from 6:00 to 19:00 with only 2 rest periods a day. The tents [on the deck of large fishing vessels] fixed up for them [to] sleep in (on boxes or wood as matresses are a luxury) encourage malformations as it is impossible to stand. by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out. factory workers and fishing vessel crew. training.. the ILO works to address this situation. In March 1999. Malaysian or Indonesian waters and may be at sea for several months. health care. steering. (31) As described in Chapter 6. the provincial government of North Sumatra. Some of the vessels concerned stay within Thai waters. Their duties include placing and hauling fishing nets. with other duties sometimes including repairing nets. a significant portion of the fishing industry has been composed of children working as fish sorters. In 1998. is likely to harm the health. non-governmental organizations and others seeking to provide accommodation. draining boats and preparing meals. to assist not only the children but also their parents. a lobsterman in the United States was fined over US$50.(32) . which includes work which.the regulatory measures provided by the state and the actions undertaken by our union during seminars designed to sensitize and prick consciences. sorting fish and carrying fish baskets ashore. This involved the Indonesian Government. cooking.notoriously dangerous work.000 for violating child labour laws after employing children as young as 10 years old to catch lobsters. employment opportunities. the ILO recently adopted a Convention concerning the "worst forms of child labour". In southern Thailand. for example. children have also been employed in the muro-ami fishing industry.(27) In the Philippines. repairing nets. Child labour and fishing Many children are working in the fishing industry.(30) Through its International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour. sit properly. either as members of a fishing family or working for others. This has included handling nets." * Description of conditions on certain European and Asian distant-water vessels off West Africa -Reported by the Collectif national des pêcheurs artisanaux du Sénégal. or sleep in the position of one's choice . a workshop was held in Indonesia to address child labour in fishing in Jermal. diving to drive away unwanted fish.

In India. For example. in the face of globalization and trade liberalization.(36) Women have also become more politically active in fishing issues at the local. Through many are treated well and make a far better income than they might earn at home. have made determined efforts not simply to eliminate discrimination but to actively recruit women. particularly from Asia. Such fishermen experience long. at times in "open" registers. held in Senegal in 1996.(39) Cases of abuse and conflic Many fishermen. The former are small-scale producers who often use the most advanced fishing technology and electronics on board small. but quite advanced. In other Northern countries. Half of the world's seafood is caught or otherwise collected by small-scale fishermen operating millions of fishing craft. However. regional and national level. Yet. such as Norway. with the majority of workers on the processing lines of some vessels being women.conditions.(38) A workshop on gender perspectives in fisheries. income inequalities and a general sense of . Women and fishing Sea fishing has. monotonous hours. a significant number suffer very poor even abusive . coastal communities where living standards and quality of life keep them at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid. abuses of human rights. The mostly poor fisherfolk at the other end of this range make their living by operating low-investment boats and fishing equipment. women fishworkers are struggling to retain their place within the fisheries sector. join fishworker organizations and get together at the community level to protect the interests of coastal communities. the wives of fishermen organize as autonomous groups. fishing craft. are employed on distant-water fishing vessels registered in countries other than their own. Wives and mothers can maintain a continuing presence in shoreside fisheries management and safety forums while their husbands or sons are on the water. women are working to protect smaller operators as well as to improve conditions on board distant-water vessels.Small-scale and artisanal fisherfolk(33) Small-scale and artisanal fishermen are overlapping terms that cover a very wide range of fish producers who use an equally wide range of fishing technology. The advent of factory trawlers led to a greater number of women on vessels at sea.000 small-scale fishermen among the Pacific islands. women fishworkers are seeking a place within mainstream fishworker organizations to address issues of concern to them. culture shock. for example. at least in many countries. Some countries.000 fishing boats of less than 10 metres length and there are over 40. Most live in remote. Portugal alone has over 10. oppresive and unsafe work. women are also becoming more active in fish catching. In some Southern countries.(35) while women have been much more active in fish processing and marketing. traditionally been carried out by men. in many places in the world old stereotypes and even superstitions remain. discussed various strategies and organizational forms that have been adopted by women fishworkers to address their concerns in different countries. In Canada.(37) whether as fishermen or shoreworkers or as wifes or mothers of fishermen.(34) There is a great difference between small-scale fishermen in industrial countries with a relatively high level of income and standard of living and artisanal fishermen in developing countries.

to supply them with gloves while working in the storage. China.(41) Box 1. The two fishermen are working in a fishing boat [name withheld]. many islanders continue to seek this employment and to return to jobs at sea.helplessness. etc. the seizure of vessels following illegal fishing (or alleged illegal fishing) or in connection with political or military disputes. poor treatment of injuries -. (b) they worked in the frozen storage and were never provided with any gloves or shoes to protect their hands and feet. non-respect of contracts agreed in advance and even beatings. Taiwan. and that the alien culture makes it difficult to organize into trade unions or to purchase other means of improving conditions.(43) Fishermen from former Eastern bloc countries have been abandoned (or remained unpaid for long periods) when their once government-owned fleets were privatized and lost access to distant fishing grounds.when joining the vessel. Some Pacific Island fishermen have also experienced similar problems while working on board foreign flag vessels. lack of medical care. that large deductions are taken from their wages to cover expenses alleged to have been incurred aboard the fishing or processing vessel. Many Filipino fishermen working on such vessels must sign a second contract with conditions velow approved Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) contract they ssigned before they left home . language barriers. They may find that insurance is limited to strictly defined illness or injuries that occur during fishing operations.3 Asking for help On 19 January 1999. lack of proper working clothes. they were often beaten and could not tolerate it any longer. (c) because of language problems between them and the Captain. receiving no support from owners. which has a long history of working with such fishermen. resulting in serious injuries to their hands and legs. . Their problems are: (a) they didn't get enough food on the boat. Some have taken their grievances to court or have formed local fishermen's associations to fight the situation. They complain of excessively long hours. The two fishermen began work on this ship on 16 November 1998. SFSC helped contact their agent in [name of port withheld] and requested him to solve their problem by changing their ship or meeting with the Captain to tell him to be fair to these fishermen in their life and work on the boat. With limited opportunities at home.even in the case of seriously injured workers.(40) The Seamen's/Fishermen's Service Center of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan. safety problems (including lack of fishing vessel inspections) and lack of means to communicate with medical or legal aid ashore. And in some areas there is piracy. Some fishermen who may have no control over where the vessel operates find themselves in jail for extended periods.(42) Fishermen have been abandoned in foreign ports following the bankruptcy of their employers. Source: Jan. a Filipino fisherman brought two other Filipino fishermen [names withheld] to our centre seeking help. Some have tried to unionize only to suffer employment discrimination. cites such problems as lack of documentation. Kaohsiung. 1999 Newsletter of the Seamen's/Fishermen's Service Center. China.

active fishermen's trade unions and other organizations. as well as measures aimed at mitigating the resulting negative socio-economic consequences. undertook a study of labour conditions and working practices in Sri Lanka's deep-sea fisheries sector with the objective of putting in place legislation that provides for safe working conditions. In 1991. ILO. identifying social and legal assistance services. made a number of recommendations to improve conditions. and improving the communication/education of fishworkers' groups. In 1998. The ITF has also been active at the United Nations. It is also monitoring the restructuring of the world's fishing fleet to ensure that safety and sustainable development issues are taken into account. the United Federation of Labour. The globalization of the fishing industry has led to a subsequent strengthening of the voice of fishermen at the regional and international levels. The participants also agreed that fishworkers who were organized in trade unions were generally better treated than their counterparts.(47) . the main objective of which was to clarify the ways by which trade unions and other forms of fisherfolks' organizations could actively intervene in the promotion of the welfare of fisherfolks and the strengthening of their organizations. The ITF has held a number of regional seminars on these and other issues. improving training. collecting basic information on fishworkers' problems and conditions.(46) In 1999. FAO. the ILO supported the initiative of a number of trade unions and fisherfolk organizations in the Philippines to hold a conference-workshop on trade unions and organizations of fisherfolks. organizing fishworkers. IMO and OECD. held in Manila in 1991. or proposed links. implementation by national governments of international laws. as this may reveal means of improving conditions of a sadly unprotected group of workers. By way of example. For example. with some support from the ILO. among other things. giving its fishermen's trade union affiliates an international voice in international fishing debates.An International Seminar-Workshop on the conditions of fishworkers on distant-water vessels. labour rights and social security for deepsea fishworkers and their families.(45) Information on any links. has sought to address long-standing divisions among certain groups of fishermen. including ILO and IMO standards. including improving recruitment practices. Social dialogue in the fishing industry Many countries have a long history of strong. the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) has strengthened and expanded its activities in the fishing sector and. It has also tried to establish closer links with other non-governmental organizations of fishermen. the ITF has long supported the concept of sustainable or responsible fisheries and actively participated in the work of the FAO in the adoption of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. the ITF adopted a policy statement calling for cooperation between small-scale or artisanal fishermen and industrial fishermen. Sri Lanka. between the authorization to fish in coastal waters and the required standards governing the conditions of the crew on fishing vessels granted such authorizations would be very useful.(44) The Office has not obtained information on whether coastal States are seeking to control the living and working conditions of fishermen working on distant-water fishing vessels authorized to fish in the coastal State's exclusive economic zones.

Where ISIC Rev. 1999). The FAO warns potential users of data shortcomings which may have resulted from gaps or estimates by national statistical offices and from the incomparability of data due to the utilization of different concepts and methods in the assessment of the number of persons engaged in fishing and aquaculture. 7. 4.org/waicent/faoinfo/fishery/fcp/fcp.3 is used. FAO: The state of world fisheries and aquaculture 1998. hunting and forestry.National owners' organizations have played an important role in safety and other matters in their respective countries. FAO and other forums. 1998). fishermen are not identified separately. All these series are classified according to economic activity. 9.either the 1968 revision (ISCO-68) or the 1988 revision (ISCO-88). according to International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO) -. at the major group level. fishing is incorporated in Major Division 1 of ISIC Rev. That is. FAO: The state of world fisheries and aquaculture 1996 (Rome. .2 along with agriculture. The term "fisherman" is gender neutral. See http://www.org/waicent/faoinfo/fishery/highligh/fisher/ c929. separate data may be available for fishing. this still represents the best available information on global employment in the fishing sector. Alain le Sann: A livelihood from fishing: Globalization and sustainable fisheries policies (London. excluding aquaculture. cit. op. The Tripartite Meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss whether and how the ILO could play a more active role in encouraging the establishment or strengthening of national organizations of fishing vessel owners and thus enhance social dialogue in the fishing sector. FAO: The state of world fisheries and aquaculture 1998 (Rome. The data on total employment are also classified by occupation. However. 1997).htm. otherwise. 5. and is the term used in ILO instruments. using either the International Standard Industrial Classification of all Economic Activities (ISIC) Revision 2 or ISIC Revision 3. 1. 2. Intermediate Technology Publications.htm. Consequently. The International Coalition of Fisheries Associations has represented fishing vessel owners at the United Nations. This information is taken primarily from the FAO Fisheries Department Internet site from a document entitled "Number of fishers doubled since 1970" at http://www. 3. 8. These relate to total employment (paid employment plus self-employment) and persons in paid employment.fao. The ILO publishes a number of relevant series on workers in its Yearbook of Labour Statistics. Europêche has been the voice of fishing vessel owners on labour and other issues before the European Commission (see Chapter 4).fao. 6.

see http://www. op. CFI/4/1988/1). at http://www. 1996 (London. 29. 21. submitted by the FAO to the 71st Session of the IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (Mar. doc. FAO: Open registers.org/waicent/faoinfo/fishery/agreem/declar/ dece. op. FAO: The state of world fisheries and aquaculture 1998.R. 155 in Ch. 6. Lloyd's Register of Shipping World Fleet Statistics. 15. See also discussion of ILO Convention No. ILO: Fishermen's conditions of work and life (Geneva. V. 1998). 1998).org/agr/policy/ag-fish/index. 12. K. 24. 19. Wigan: The last of the hunter gatherers (Shrewsbury.htm. 1993). doc. . Nitiruangjaras et al. with updates. 26.: A research on child labour in the fishery industry and other continued industries in Pattani (Thailand. ILO. 18. cit. http://www. Of vessels 24 metres and over and 100 grt and over. 23. 13. 1998). Based on World Fishing: Fisherman's manual (Kent.greenpeace.fao. op. ILO/Atma Jaya Research Centre. J. 35 (Rome.html. For the text of the Declaration. op. 1997). Based. 17. No. Fitzpatrick and C. Based. United Kingdom. 1996). 27. FAO: Bulletin of Fishery Statistics. Pardoen: Children in hazardous work in the informal sector in Indonesia (Jakarta. cit. Rialp: Children and hazardous work in the Philippines (Geneva. 22. ibid. 28.oecd. M. 1999). 11. cit. 20. on ILO: Fishermen's conditions of work and life. S.htm. 16.org/~oceans/reports/flotta. MSC 71/10/1.. Newton: Assessment of the world's fishing fleet 1991-1997. on ILO: Fishermen's conditions of work and life.10. Nexus Media Ltd.org/waicent/faoinfo/fishery/highligh/2010. 1997).fao. cit. with updates. see http://www. 25. For further information on how to obtain these reports. Fitzpatrick and Newton. 14.htm.

. Vacher: "Floating sweatshops: Migrant workers on distant-water fishing vessels". For a more detailed discussion of these issues see J. small-scale fishermen are people of both genders who usually operate their own fishing craft and equipment. powered by engines not exceeding 200-300 hp (150-225 kW). 112). and (2) by technical ones. similar concerns". organized with the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers (ICSF). United States. in ILO: Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety (Geneva. diving or wading. The Office may publish the report at a later date as a sectoral working paper. No. in Samudra Report (Madras. pirogues and open-deck dhows up to 16 m length overall. and less than 12-15 MT displacement. or using small-scale fishing craft. Vol.30. for example. Development Education Exchange Papers (DEEP) (Rome). 31. 33. particularly inland fishing in many African countries. 1959 (No. For developed countries. Ch. 32. For a discussion of gender and fishing. Munk-Madsen: "Psychosocial characteristics of the workforce at sea". 35. 40. either by swimming. Reported in the CRS daily summary. Ben-Yami. 25 Sep. ICSF). 39.html. Small-scale fishing craft are defined. 66: "Fishing". see E.au/fisheries/crs_ summaries_lfv.altgreen. Ben-Yami: Risks and dangers in small-scale fisheries: An overview. 3. op. According to socio-economic criteria. participates not only in local forums but is also represented on the national advisory committee concerned with fishing safety. The Gloucester Fishermen's Wives Association.com. Communication from the ILO Office in Jakarta. 138). as boats of less than 10-12 m length overall. 1973 (No. 34. See the discussion of the Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Advisory Committee (CFIVAC) under "United States" in Annex 1. Oct. Technical criteria used in this report define small-scale fisheries as a sector in which fishermen fish and collect aquatic organisms from beaches and from under ice. and Minimum Age (Fishermen) Convention. powered by engines not exceeding 200 hp (150 kW). this definition also covers canoes. an unpublished paper prepared for the Office in view of this report. 37. 1998). 36. for industrial countries. 1996. In this report small-scale fisheries are defined in two ways: (1) by socio-economic criteria. 38. Although there are notable examples of fisheries. 1998 at http://www. The ILO's Minimum Age Convention. in FAO: Responsible fisheries. 1995. are discussed in Chs. 4th edition. 15. cit. This workshop. Based on M. where women constitute the majority of fishermen or "fishers". in Massachussets. 5 and 6. Aug. was reported in "Different voices. go to sea either alone or accompanied by a few crew members who are preferably their own friends or relatives.

however. ILO: Trade unions and organizations of fisherfolks (1992). 43.799. as reported in Fishing News International (London). General Secretary. 45. Personal correspondence forwarded by Jacques Harel. companies and masters shown to be involved in human rights abuses". "unanimously endorsed a motion on 25 March to take action to deny fishing licences to vessels. It was approved by BW/OdVR. South Asian Labour Forum. Letter to the ILO from the United Federation of Labour. 46. May 1998). investigative report (four-part series.org SECTOR: [ Top | SECTOR Home | About Sector | Sectors | Meetings | Publications | Contact us ] © 1996-2011 International Labour Organization (ILO) | Copyright and Permissions | Privacy policy | Disclaimer ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations . please contact the Sectoral Activities Department (SECTOR) at Tel: +41. Updated by AN/BR. It is. It was last updated . International Christian Maritime Assocation. 44. 1991). June 1998. 13 February 2002. This situation has been described in considerable detail in H.22. Fax: +41. inter alia.7050 or email: sector@ilo.7501. For further information. 1998-99). 23 July 1998. This page was created by RP/CP. in Asia Now. "The fishermen's story". Mar. 42.41. Belgium. 47.799. 1999.: Fishworkers as prisoners of war (New Delhi. aware that the Falkland Islands Legislative Council. Report on the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers' Seminar-Workshop on the conditions of fishworkers on distant-water vessels (ICSF.22. Mahadevan et al.

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The role of insurance and the costs of accidents are also discussed. 13-17 December 1999 International Labour Office Geneva Copyright ©2000 International Labour Organization (ILO) Cover photographs: ILO/J. injuries and diseases. of accidents. Special characteristics of the working environment in the fishing industry Fishing takes place in the often hostile marine environment. When the weather is particularly rough. and how they may be analysed so as to devise prevention strategies. Maillard and Leif Magne Vik To purchase this document. except in very calm weather. First there is a discussion of many of the risks and the ways of categorizing fatalities and injuries. are constantly in motion. Although in many countries it appears that accidents and injuries are under-reported. click here 2. The approaches to collecting information on accidents and injuries in fishing seem to vary considerably. Fishing vessels. The statistics available should be used cautiously. A discussion of the ILO's experience in preparing international statistics on occupational safety and health is included in Chapter 5. the statistics should help identify some of the main problem areas. Safety and health issues in the fishing industry This chapter will examine safety and health issues in the fishing industry.Safety and Health in the Fishing Industry Report for discussion at the Tripartite Meeting on Safety and Health in the Fishing Industry Geneva. This is followed by a review of some of the causes. including underlying causes. the motion may be .

Smaller craft may more easily be damaged by or lost in powerful storms(1) or run down by merchant ships. fishermen are exposed to the weather and the sea. it may take quite a while for aid to reach vessels or persons in distress. certain fishermen also face risks of physical abuse on board. Risks vary with each type of fishing operation. Vessels usually carry a substantial amount of equipment necessary to store and (frequently) process fish. A sick or injured fisherman must depend on receiving immediate medical care from other members of the crew. On larger vessels. If the vessel suffers a casualty. and this may increase stress as well as facilitate the passage of contagious diseases. Measuring accidents and injuries in the fishing industry There is not only a great variety in fishing operations but also a great variety in the way fishing safety and health problems are qualified and quantified. . perhaps greater for small vessels than larger ones. can itself be a danger. If fishing gear breaks free. In places where fishing vessels are unable to operate from ports or shelters. This does not leave much living and working space. Marine fishing operations can take place anywhere from very close to shore in protected bays to far out at sea. if fishing alone. the risk of being killed or injured through crushing by heavy equipment may be relatively high. even when not working. and fishermen must therefore usually work very close to powerful and potentially dangerous machinery.(2) The safety problems associated with crabbing in the Bering Sea off Alaska are quite different from those encountered in shrimp trawlers in the Bay of Bengal. sinking while pulling in a large catch and even being attacked by dangerous marine life can be considerable. Over-simplification of the industry.extreme and unpredictable. sinking and other traditional maritime dangers. the only help available must come from himself or from nearby fishing vessels. On or below deck they may face dangers associated with processing and. deaths and injuries can be related to vessel casualties or to personnel accidents not involving loss or damage to the vessel. Bad weather. Fog carries the risk of collision or grounding. if at all. which may lead to inappropriate regulation and thus resentment and loss of the cooperation of the fishermen concerned. There is always the possibility of fire. Cramped crew accommodation can result in fishermen living very close to each other. Though great strides have been made in many countries to provide search and rescue and medical evacuation services to fishing vessels (such as medical evacuation by helicopter). crossing surf may be very dangerous. there may be nowhere to get away from it. Living and working space on board fishing vessels can be quite limited. equipment carried and the job of each fisherman. maintenance and operation of the vessel all directly affect safety and health. Fishermen depend on their vessels for their survival. Some face physical risks due to military or resource-related conflicts or piracy. the fishermen have a good chance of losing their lives (in some areas families live on board and thus share the risks). For example. area of operation. The design. fishing gear and other equipment and usually to the catch itself. As touched upon in Chapter 1. the risk of capsizing from a snagged trawl. loss of power and unsuitable vessels are additional risks. they are still subject to vessel motion. On deck. On small and artisanal vessels. construction. vessel size. Fishermen on artisanal craft may not have a radio to call for help.

fishing gear).000 deaths per year. the rate was 25-30 times higher than the rate for those employed on land. In Australia. in the United States in 1996. including by vessel size. 16 times higher than such occupations as fire-fighting and police work and over 40 times the national average. lack of training). and estimates that there are 24 million non-fatal accidents in the sector annually.(3) Fatalities A comparison between fatality statistics in the fishing industry and general occupational fatality rates of other occupational categories shows that fishing is one of the most dangerous professions. the fatality rate for fishermen was 143/100.they may be attributed directly to one cause (e. Occupational fatalities and injuries in the fishing industry in selected countries. fatigue. longlining) or to certain types of equipment (winches. Accidents may be attributed to a primary event or an underlying or primary cause. falling over the side). they may be associated with certain types of fishing (trawling. Table 2. slipping) or be specific to fishing (caught in trawl winch).11 0. The external environment may be seen as the cause (bad weather) or an accident may be attributed to the human element (inattention. They can be categorized under various headings. in Tunisia in 1994.1. from 1989 to 1996.2514 . over 400 fishermen are reported killed in accidents each year. in China.077 0. the death rate was estimated at eight times that of persons operating motor vehicles for a living. in Denmark. Causes may be described in very general terms used for all professions (falling from height. between 1982 and 1984.(4) Table 2.000 person-years compared to 8.g. The ILO's Occupational Safety and Health Branch estimates that fishing has a worldwide fatality rate of 80 per 100. 1997 Country Persons injured Persons Persons Fatality rate (per 1.1 presents statistics on occupational fatalities and injuries in the fishing industry in selected countries.000 workers or approximately 24.000) injured with lost worktime fatally injured All occupations Fishing* Workdays lost (figures in thousands) Canada Colombia Panama 651('96) 66('95) 143 642 76 140 9 0 3 0.000 generally. drowning) or indirectly to other causes (capsizing of vessel.069 0. the rate was double the national average.1/100.

2.Rep.489 17('96) * Data for fishing industry may include shoreworkers.1017 0. Lives lost by category of vessel casualty for 18 countries. Fatalities due to vessel casualties Vessel casualties are obviously a major risk and cause of death to fishermen.800 0.6496 1 194. Table 2.077 5.454 0.228 2.48 10 554 11 121 2 493 5 701 15 46 0 4('96) 1 8 ('96) 14 41 15 ('96) 0 0.588 0.17 0. 1998).3 divide fishing vessels into three size categories: less than 12 metres.049 0.33 0.01 0.023 0.2 and 2. 12-24 metres and over 24 metres.5('96) 0. of Korea Estonia Finland Greece Iceland Italy Lithuania Poland Portugal Spain Sweden New Zealand 134 18 45 69 ('95) 10 558('96) 12 129 2 507('96) 5 742 16('96) 46('96) 121 14 45 13 4 0 0.057 4.(5) Tables 2.2 shows data on lives lost by category of vessel casualty during the period 1995-97 based on information submitted to the International Maritime Organization by 18 countries and areas. Source: ILO: Yearbook of Labour Statistics (Geneva.026 2. Table 2. 1995-97 .073('95) 0.211 0.073('95) 0.075 0.

(6) This. most are due to sinking. however. In the United States (which is not reflected in the table and which uses a different set of vessel casualty categories). and to the wrecking or stranding of fishing vessels. Note by the Secretariat (London. doc. of the 57 per cent of deaths directly related to vessel casualties. flooding and capsizing. In some fishing communities there may be no . 29 Jan. is only a sampling of the world fleet. 1999). This table indicates that the greatest number of fatalities are related to foundering. FSI 7/6/2. and it is likely that in some of these countries the fatalities are under-reported. fires or explosions. 281 227 210 718 Source: IMO: Collection and analysis of casualty statistics of fishing vessels and fishermen.1995 1996 1997 Total <12 12<<24 >24 <12 12<<24 >24 <12 12<<24 >24 Foundered Capsized Fire/explosion Collision Contact Wreck/stranded Miscellaneous Unknown Subtotal 65 23 23 11 4 14 6 5 151 28 10 21 9 16 3 4 8 33 11 27 9 50 7 21 13 1 12 41 9 21 11 36 10 19 7 11 3 1 3 292 76 137 71 5 22 2 1 93 3 1 2 37 16 2 23 1 1 11 2 2 12 97 17 3 3 109 17 11 98 117 92 21 Total Note: Vessel length in metres.

Lives lost due to accidents on board. inappropriate modification. fatality statistics may only be partially representative of reality (see also the discussion of statistics in Chapter 5). Table 2. Thus. Fatal accidents on board The nature of fishing operations also involves the risk of accidents on board. collisions may result from poor watchkeeping by either the fishing vessel or a passing merchant ship. improper loading or ballasting of the vessel. a stranding may be the result of poor navigation or uncharted shoals. On-board accidents are meant here as those in which the vessel is neither lost nor seriously damaged but where a fisherman is killed or injured. or from taking heavy beam seas following loss of power. asphyxiation from working in an enclosed space. 1995-97 1995 1996 1997 Total <12 12<<24 >24 <12 12<<24 >24 <12 12<<24 >24 Falling overboard/ going missing Handling of fishing gear/ mechanical lifting Involving machinery Falls on board 21 12 8 14 5 14 16 5 5 100 1 1 2 1 1 1 1 4 2 1 1 4 17 2 3 2 . This may result from falling overboard. handling fishing gear. etc. Foundering may be caused by the fishing vessel experiencing conditions which exceed its design or by hull failure due to poor maintenance. district or national authorities. capsizing may result from poor design.3 shows data from 18 countries (see footnote 5) on lives lost due to accidents on board during the period 1995-97. There may also be no requirement for deaths to be reported to the local. There are many reasons why casualties occur. slipping or falling on board as a result of vessel motion. Table 2.death certificates or coroner's report.3.

Bearing in mind that the information presented above only covers a small group of countries. In Guinea. This picture becomes worse still when the sometimes massive losses of life and equipment in tropical storms are taken into consideration. and for every 200 registered fishermen one person (male and female fishermen. op. or inadequate. improper alterations to structure. were indicated. Fatalities involving vessels over 20 grt resulted from lack of. and. a small country with some 7. a survey disclosed that during one year every 15th canoe has an accident. 61 59 76 196 Source: IMO: Collection and analysis of casualty statistics. Circumstances such as overloading. some 120 deaths in about 640 accidents were reported. etc. cit. nine accidents occurred in connection with boarding or leaving the vessel (alcohol often cited as a contributing factor) and many accidents had not been witnessed leaving the causes unknown. first aid. for small vessels. Most fatalities on small vessels (less than 20 grt) occurred during the winter months in bad weather.(7) just over half resulting from vessels sinking.Hit by seas Asphyxiation Other Unknown Subtotal 2 3 27 3 16 1 1 3 1 18 23 6 2 6 4 4 2 30 1 1 18 38 3 9 19 10 19 1 8 19 46 Total Note: Vessel length in metres. fish traders and their families) dies in a canoe accident. Among these losses are drownings or deaths from hypothermia. it is very evident that falling overboard (or going missing) remains a major cause of death. during the 1989-90 period. ice conveyor belts.12 fishermen died due to some sort of accident involving machinery (winches. Fatal accidents in small-scale artisanal fishing Artisanal and other small-scale vessels often operate with less than adequate safety and communication equipment.000 artisanal marine fishermen. A study of fatal accidents in the Danish industrial fishing fleet during the period 1989-96 reported 70 such accidents. use of vessels beyond their capacity.). In Oceania.(8) . trawl doors. Several fishermen were killed owing to being pulled over the side by gear or otherwise falling overboard and drowning -. safety procedures. search and rescue (SAR) and early warning services.

hearing loss. sprains and contusions. Fatal poisoning was often related to the inhalation of toxic fumes caused by fires on board. When a fisherman returns to his boat at night (in some cases under the influence of alcohol). head and neck -. Skin diseases were related to handling fish or other marine life without using gloves. Lung cancer may be related to excessive smoking among fishermen. legs -.18 per cent.24.(14) Other health problems may include eye damage from excessive glare from the sun and irritations resulting from standing for long periods or sitting for long periods on cold surfaces.(13) Other diseases and health problems An ILO survey (see box 2. It may also relate to the use of asbestos and other materials in machinery spaces.29 per cent. Such a traverse is risky even in daylight under normal circumstances.475 Polish deep-sea fishermen from 1977 to 1986 recorded that the most frequent types of injuries were: contusions and crushing -. lung and stomach. Occupational asthma was associated with several types of fish but mostly with crustaceans and molluscs.2 per cent. Information on the Russian fleet reveals that hands were injured in 41 per cent of accidents. strains. Asphyxiation or poisoning occurred due to the lack of oxygen or the build-up of toxic gases in enclosed spaces. For example.(11) A 1995 Swedish study concluded that hands and wrists were the most exposed body parts followed by shanks or knees and lower arms or elbows.10 per cent. Some diseases. followed by the chest. Lip cancer (and skin cancer) are probably the result of excessive exposure to the sun. Many non-fatal injuries may involve amputation of fingers.(15) Box 2. The most common types of traumas are open wounds.17.4 per cent and wounds -.7 per cent. even worse. Common problems include occupational asthma. Hypertension. cancers of the lip. head and neck and upper limbs. in the darkness with no one else around.1 . missing.(9) Non-fatal accidents Non-fatal accidents are common in the fishing industry. as well as from the effects of noise and vibration. such an obstacle course can be fatal.(10) The body regions most frequently injured include the hands.25.1) and other information indicates that many fishermen also suffer from skin and respiratory diseases. lacerations and minor traumas of the hands and finger are quite frequent. the fisherman then has to cross several vessels to reach his own. In harbours with a rise and fall of the tide. wrists -. hands.Most fishing vessels are too small to be fitted with accommodation ladders. fatal poisoning and asphyxia. stomach cancer and lung cancer are also indicated as important problems. access to vessels is normally by ladders indented into the pier with steel rungs. Infections. a study of lost-time accidents covering 10. lower limbs. fractures -. arms and legs as well as injuries to the head and neck. fractures. such as salt-water boils and injury by or allergic reactions to marine life are peculiar to fishing. coronary heart diseases. These rungs are sometimes twisted or. spine and abdomen. Due to the common method of mooring the vessels in parallel. skin diseases.(12) Others categorize accidents according to the nature of the injury sustained.

Thailand. and near drowning. types of accidents. Lithuania. effects of weather and exposure. Belgium. Drowning was a leading cause of death among fishermen. These included responses from: Australia. Canada. Copies of reports. The questionnaire concerned: medical examinations for fitness for work on fishing vessels. Where possible. Croatia. as well as other relevant information. This was done by surveying medical practitioners in maritime countries and institutions which provided health services for fishermen. The results indicated that the most frequent work-related injuries in fishermen were: superficial injuries. The most frequent diseases among fishermen were: skin and respiratory diseases. Indonesia. Côte d'Ivoire. The leading types of accidents were: stepping on. Poland. overexertion. Respondents were asked to complete the questionnaire and to provide any available statistics on work-related morbidity and accidents among fishermen. China. Philippines. falling. India. personal protective equipment and inattention. Forty-one completed questionnaires were sent back to the ILO in sufficient time to be reflected in this report. United Kingdom. striking against or being struck by an object. Bulgaria. Denmark. equipment. Spain. causes of accidents. Jamaica. France. The leading causes of accidents were: rough weather. concerning health and safety issues in the fishing sector. statistics and other information were also provided. fatigue. and first aid and medical care on small fishing vessels. Germany. Russian Federation. the Office used classifications in line with the ILO code of practice Recording and notification of occupational accidents and diseases (see Chapter 5). injuries to the musculoskeletal system. Estonia. poor technical condition of the vessel. inadequate or inappropriate tools. primarily from the international maritime medical community. Portugal. frequency of work-related diseases and injuries among fishermen. United States and Vanuatu. South Africa. medical care on board fishing vessels.Results of an ILO survey on health and safety issues in the fishing sector In 1999 the ILO collected and analysed views and information. Chile. with some additions and modifications reflecting fishing. injuries and diseases among fishermen working on small fishing vessels. and the effects of . contusions and crushing injuries. actions aimed at accident prevention. Norway. Iceland. scientific papers.

as required by law and regulations. In the majority of countries. Tomaszunas. stress and poor work organization. masters or officers are trained in medical matters and provide first aid and basic health care during the vessel's voyage. this can be a particular characteristic of women's employment in the fishing industry.(16) it was determined that 74 per cent of fishermen had experienced symptoms of musculoskeletal disorder over a 12-month period and the fishermen themselves felt that the motion of the vessel was a major contributor. In a Swedish study. repetitive work tasks. factory ships or auxiliary ships (bases) to oversee their health. coronary heart diseases and cancer of the lungs. Health and medical services for fishermen are available on shore. and use is made of the International Medical Guide for Ships or an equivalent national publication. Otherwise. As many fish processing jobs are performed by women (usually on large factory trawlers at sea or in processing plants ashore). These problems are largely the result of heavy lifting.(18) Relating safety and health to fishing methods(19) . awkward work postures. In morbidity statistics and publications hypertension. is a particularly serious problem for crewmen and processing workers in the cold weather conditions of Alaska. fish erysipeloid. Medical equipment and supplies are carried on fishing vessels. related to long hours or repetitious work. if necessary.(17) Tendonitis. such as salt-water boils. They are required to be medically examined prior to taking up their occupation. allergic reactions to cuttlefish and weeds. Port health officers. if the distance from shore allows it. and later on at regular intervals. medical and health care for fishermen has been organized. acute tenosynovitis of the wrist. bronchus and stomach were also mentioned as frequently diagnosed diseases. also had a high prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders. Musculoskeletal disorders (i. Ships are in contact with medical radio stations on shore and. diseases of the muscles.noise and vibration on board the vessel. Fish processing workers. casualties can be transported to shore for hospital treatment. tendons and/or joints) are common. in the unloading of the catch ashore. consultant to the ILO on the survey. and conditions involved. Some diseases are specific to fishermen. A study of artisanal fishermen in Morocco showed that one-third suffered from musculoskeletal disorders. This may be related to the highly repetitive tasks performed in a short time cycle and the lack of rotation among different tasks. Medical staff (doctors and/or nurses) are employed in some countries to accompany the crews of large trawlers. and these were generally related to the methods used. whether at sea or ashore. port Summary and analysis based on a paper by S. conjunctivitis and poisonous fish stings of certain fish in the warm waters of the tropics and subtropics.e.

(20) Relating safety and health to processing the catch Catch processing is carried out on nearly all vessels except those that deliver the catch to shoreside fish processors. otter boards) under considerable strain. the cold environment and the frequent change in temperatures (varying by as much as 40 to 45 degrees centigrade) can lead to health problems. This work can also be very heavy. falling overboard Crushing injuries. An analysis of the processing of the catch on a Dutch beam trawler revealed: heavy labour due to much lifting of baskets and boxes during intermediate storage and to working in the cooled fish hold during icing and final storage. stress due to peak workloads and short work cycles. For example. high noise. many minor hand and finger injuries caused by the manual gutting of the catch. including frostbite and hypothermia.(21) Relating injuries to jobs or tasks Accidents and injuries in the fishing industry may be categorized according to the job or task concerned. Freezing and wetfish operation may result in less accidents than on vessels using more extensive processing machinery. purse seine and other fishing gear Connecting trawl doors Bleeding and gutting Entanglement in the fishing gear or wire cables. and poor ambient conditions during work in the fish hold. causing major injuries or loss of life.4 below shows some of the types of work commonly performed on fishing vessels and the injuries frequently related to this work. the risk is highest during hauling as the crew usually works close to the wires and other gear (e.Safety and health risks vary by fishing method. falling overboard Cuts from knives or machines. however. crushing injuries.g. Risks of injury associated with specific tasks Task On-board vessel injury Setting and hauling trawl. musculoskeletal disorders . Dangerous aspects of autoliners. With trawling. Table 2. Common accidents involve falling or being struck or crushed. longlining may be characterized by long working hours. Table 2. Fish processing lines can involve high noise levels and very specialized.4. In heavy weather. vibration and acceleration levels. conventional liners or hauling craft may include being caught in the line and pulled over the side during line setting and becoming caught in the line-roller and line when hauling. stationary work and relatively less heavy lifting. falling in the processing workstation positioned under the foredeck and in the hold. the wire or gear may sweep across the deck. stationary work (in some ways similar to assembly line work ashore).

Table 2. musculoskeletal disorders Intoxication. accidents were distributed as shown in table 2. by task Task % Maintenance of machinery. asphyxia In a study of the Russian fishing industry.5. amputations using knives or machines. op. Accident distribution in the Russian fishing fleet. equipment and tools Handling of fishing gear Cargo operations Repair work. cit. entanglement in the lines Musculoskeletal disorders Cuts. loading and landing Source: Rafnsson. musculoskeletal disorders Trimming fillets Working in confined spaces.Longlining and handlining Heavy lifting Filleting Wounds from hooks.5. including emergency repairs Travelling to and from fishing grounds Mooring operations 25 15 13 10 16 9 . which has a relatively high proportion of large trawlers. Cuts from knives.

new investigation techniques are helping investigators obtain a better understanding of what causes accidents. Primary causes of fatalities of fishermen 1995 1996 1997 Total . use of tools. Categories included: warping drum for cod end rope/gilson wire. fishing operations that require partial or full submersion(24) expose fisherfolk to injuries by fish and other animals.Source: Minko. hatches. Human error. A 1996 Danish study revealed that nearly half of all injuries occurred while shooting or hauling fishing gear. snapping of cable. capsizing (Often due to crossing surf or hauling gear). As will be seen later in this report. but all have the same general objective -. handling fish -. injury caused when bringing the catch on board. The IMO has collected information from member States on the primary causes of casualties which led to the death of fishermen (see table 2. including some from by-catch. cit. dragged by net/rope. or series of factors.21 per cent. For example. swinging of load.(23) Fishermen in small-scale and artisanal fishing operations can suffer particular types of accidents and injuries.6. These can include: posining. gutting of fish.9 per cent. Table 2. falling overboard. hit by cable slam. and fouling gear in the propeller. jammed by net. jammed by cable. sting from poisonous fish (common in some areas). op. fishing gear incidents and adverse weather appear as important primary causes in the accidents reported to the IMO. The Workers' Compensation Board of British Columbia. reported that between 1993 and 1995.(22) A study of accidents on Dutch beam trawlers categorized accident sources as being a combination of equipment and type of work. falling. of 714 work accidents at sea. there are different approaches to examining the causes of accidents.(25) Causes of accidents What is behind these events? Again. and emergency response -.6). in order to prevent them in the future or mitigate their effects. doors. fish crates.23 per cent. The table divides primary causes into a number of categories covering both vessel and human factors. led to a casualty or accident. Canada.to understand what factors. the activities most associated with accidents were: handling fishing gear -.

The role of the human factor or human error has been a recurrent theme in recent discussions on how to improve safety (see box 2. of how action or lack of action by people is essential to safety.<12 12<<24 >24 <12 12<<24 >24 <12 12<<24 >24 Human error Steering gear failure Fishing gear incident Other failure of vessel.2). op. these discussions have helped remind us.2 . Box 2. in an age when technology-based solutions can be oversold. 134 99 110 343 Source: IMO: Collection and analysis of casualty statistics. While always recognizing that human and equipment causes can often not be clearly separated. its machinery or equipment Adverse weather Icing Other Unknown Subtotal 13 6 6 12 1 5 8 7 1 59 1 2 1 4 1 3 2 7 4 25 1 11 1 6 2 2 9 1 3 1 7 2 6 1 1 7 46 1 4 50 80 2 11 28 1 14 26 9 23 57 1 12 16 9 5 26 3 29 49 4 13 39 15 22 33 172 Total Note: Vessel length in metres. cit.

navigational/operator error (including inexperience and errors in judgement). inadequate personal occupational safety equipment. or there may have been poor judgement exercised as to when and where to go fishing. however. disaster strikes. Faced with economic and competitive pressures. Suddenly. these are often aimed only. inadequate physical condition. and inadequate or insufficient survival equipment. improper or inadequate procedures (including inadequate or unsafe loading/stability practices) and inadequate watchkeeping. however. improper maintenance. fishermen are prone to take calculated risks. Source: North Pacific Fishing Vessel Owners' Association: Vessel Safety Manual (Seattle. you've got four or five things to deal with at once. In one study. are often made without adequate consideration or testing of their influence on stability.taking). Providing a safe vessel Fishing vessel owners have the primary responsibility for providing a safe vessel and safety equipment. 4th (revised) edition. Says one veteran skipper. construction and equipment . 1997). and unless the crew is well prepared and trained. unavailable or inadequate operating equipment. Measures to reduce noise (which is a common problem) and to guard machinery may be neglected.Why do accidents happen? Most fishing vessel casualties are the result of human error. Most countries have adopted laws and regulations concerning vessel safety. judgemental errors (including faulty decision-making and risk. and working conditions. for example. Maintenance and repair may have been inadequate. bilge pumps and fire-fighting systems. Design. general non-availability of stability data for each vessel. especially machinery. use of machinery and fishing gear with inadequate occupational safety and health features. vessel-related factors and behavioural factors were observed. including bilge alarms and smoke detectors. However. inexperience (including inadequate knowledge and skills and insufficient familiarity with the vessel or fishing activity). However. Behavioural factors included: fatigue/stress. alarm systems and survival equipment.(26) among other things. personnel relationships. or primarily. careful risk management is crucial for business success. including adding superstructure or equipment weight on deck. classification society rules and similar standards during vessel design and construction or conversion. even when casualties have been the result of equipment failure or bad weather. At first. some may claim that replacing vessels or providing certain safety equipment is too costly. Moreover. neglect (including wilful negligence). an emergency at sea is like a snowball: it grows. the human factor has often played a part. inattention (including carelessness). Vessel-related factors included: non-availability or lack of adherence to structural guidelines. one or two things go wrong and you can probably cope with those. incapacitation through use of alcohol and drugs. not to mention survival. inadequate material condition of vessels and equipment. inadequate human engineering in design. In view of the liabilities that confront the vessel operator today. Vessel modifications. at larger vessels.

But with alia fishermen venturing further offshore. or even in small-scale and artisanal fisheries in other countries. In developing countries. it appears that many distant-water fishing vessels are being registered in countries which do not exercise effective control of safety and health issues (i. financial constraints and lack of appropriate materials or lax building practices.3 Improving vessel safety -. If a fisherman believes that a piece of equipment is not really necessary. and strongly fight. An owner working alone on his own vessel may be willing to take risks. life preservers and simple first-aid kits. requirements to carry it. While it may be evident that fishermen would wish to at least carry such items as fire extinguishers. updated fishing gear or fish-finding equipment which will result in a larger catch. the number of alias went into the hundreds and even serious losses due to two severe cyclones could not reduce their numbers for long. even if they can be inspected. items they believe are unnecessary. in some cases.e. cit. Box 2. Many barely break even financially. etc. op. When money does become available. accidents became more frequent and the number of casualties increased. With the almost universal absence of mandatory criteria and inspection. and many object to carrying. less time on the water and perhaps less time at risk. Source: Ben-Yami. and items such as an immersion suit or life-raft may seem excessive and expensive. In many countries small vessels are not subject to inspection or. led to increased safety as enthusiastic fishermen have. beyond the range for which the alias had been designed. The alia was designed to enable fishermen to reach safely outlying reefs and beyond to fish with hooks and lines. very few regulations. however. they are not due to lack of resources. Even when technical cooperation projects have improved vessel standards.requirements for small vessels may be very limited. used the vessels in conditions for which they were not designed (see box 2. he may resent. An economic success resulted. mostly due to lack of experience. and paying for. many boat builders have produced unsafe boats. an owner carrying other fishermen on board obviously has greater responsibilities. the results have not always. many do not. a small catamaran called the "alia" was designed and introduced under an FAO programme.(27) Other builders may find it difficult to leave behind traditional vessel designs and building practices.). . insufficient inspectors or administrative machinery. many vessels are built without following modern rules of construction which aim to ensure good stability and seaworthiness under specific operating conditions. Fishermen are very practical.A Samoan story In Samoa. the fisherman may decide that it is better spent on new.3). and in some cases non-existent. As indicated in Chapter 1.

sanitary facilities. sea water is to be used in bathing. and facilities for treatment when a fisherman is injured or becomes ill. Accommodation includes the size. Examinations are usually required for fishermen working on fishing vessels which are at sea for a period of more than a few days. even those on vessels which stay at sea for long periods. there are examples of abuse (fishermen denied medical treatment aboard or ashore) and. galley equipment. location and quality of eating. In some countries nearly all fishermen must receive some training. Consideration must also be given to how to protect other aspects of health. . Adequate accommodation becomes more important the longer a vessel stays at sea. one contract used for distant-water fishing vessels provides: "I understand fully that due to limited water supply. quality of food and rest are necessary for good health. conversely. Obviously. inadequate or outdated. The quality of medical examination and medical care is important. In contrast.Providing a healthy working environment and medical care Discussions on safety and health in the fishing industry focus on what can be done to prevent accidents leading to death or injury. Some fishermen receive medical treatment ashore through national medical care programmes or through insurance provided as an employment benefit. Therefore. may not be regularly examined. many fishermen. This can lead not only to problems for these fishermen but also for other crew members who may themselves become ill or who may be required to take on the work of their sick crewmate. to provide immediate first aid. sleeping and recreational spaces. A sick or injured seafarer must also rely on the knowledge of the captain and crew. Reducing noise in both working and living spaces is important. washing clothes and tooth brushing. However. Others lacking a formal employment contract must pay for their own health insurance or medical care. adequate heating and lighting. in some only captains or senior officers must be trained. The ILO survey indicates that stomach problems are common. Medical care ashore is another issue. Many fishermen have limited or no access to medical care." The Office has received several copies of this contract from various sources. thoughtful innovation (see Chapter 3). Medical chests or kits may be missing. As in all other aspects of fishing safety and health. Philippine and other Asian fishermen. It is apparently used on some vessels employing Indonesian. This may be related to food quality or insufficient time for digestion due to the rhythm of work. others have very few requirements. perhaps with the assistance of radio advice. Training and risk awareness Adequate training would seem to be a prerequisite for working in such a dangerous profession. The Office has received reports of fishermen who are not given food of sufficient nutritional value or in sufficient quantities. drinking water is supplied by ration.

4 . training (e. however. Yet fatality and injury rates remain high. such as fishermen who have left the sea due to fishing restrictions. ashore. and one that is rolling gently and slowly but is either inherently unstable or its stability has been impaired by overloading. If they believe that what is presented is impracticable. Obviously. certain dangers inherent in working at sea will always remain and cannot be eliminated. represents a risk on board. the larger the vessel the higher the requirements for the training and certification of fishermen. At sea. they may not only reject the instructor but also the idea of attending another training course or programme. Culture and attitude Much has been done (or at least tried) to improve safety and health in the fishing industry. injuries or age. Fishermen run the full range from highly educated individuals. formally or informally taught. Insufficient training is also a reason for some skippers' and crews' ignorance of means and ways of dealing with such emergencies as fire on board or taking water. This contributes to many stability-associated accidents. time spent training may be viewed as unpaid work which is also keeping fishermen from precious time with family and friends. Basic education is a problem in some countries. Despite these difficulties. in poor areas.g. Skippers of small fishing vessels are often not required to be certified and/or undergo mandatory marine training and pass examinations. The skipper of a small fishing vessel not trained to handle her in heavy seas and strong currents. many owners have established thorough training programmes.4). particularly captains and senior officers. and government funding may be difficult to obtain. They should be clear and well illustrated. especially in industrial countries. Training can also be costly. so they can be clearly understood by most fishermen.(28) Training takes time. However. and especially in narrow passages. Training must be credible. Fishermen quickly get a sense of whether or not the person speaking on safety issues understands them and their problems. safety drills) may be seen as interfering with fishing operations or rest periods. Most decked small fishing vessels can be made unstable by skippers who have not been taught the difference between a "stiff" but stable boat. Box 2. Chapters 3 to 6 discuss some national. costly or simply not well thought out. perhaps one of the main reasons for the numerous deaths and accidents lies in some fishermen's attitudes towards safety and towards the regulations established to improve it (see box 2.Generally speaking. to those with little or no formal schooling. many fishermen cannot read. are properly trained. Consideration might therefore be given to using experienced and respected fishermen to conduct training. where small-scale vessels may have a considerable cargo capacity and some relatively heavy machinery on the deck. Training materials should be aimed at the education level of the target group. regional and international measures to ensure that fishermen. This includes not only government regulation but also training and safety awareness programmes.

Shipowners' P&I Club. in The Fishermen. the condition and dexterity of the crew. and response to. Many fishermen have a different perception of danger to shoreside workers. gained through the experience of investigating several hundred fishing vessel accidents annually. Morton and B. the condition of the fishing vessel and equipment.D.5 What it takes to be a highliner This is what it takes to be a highliner. independence. beliefs and values play an important role in the perception of. what method/gear to use. Such decisions take into account weather changes. They depend on the skipper's culture. and so on. Source: A.(29) This being said. Highly successful fishermen or "highliners" enjoy tremendous prestige among fisherfolk and their communities (see box 2. you don't eat at all. the belief that safety is a problem that primarily . Proctor: "Heart of the raincoast: A life story". Most of the time this will give you the little edge you need to beat the hell out of most. Elements of risk of various sorts and degrees are inherent in almost every decision made by a skipper or individual fisherman -. it may also be true that. Accidents may happen to those who aspire to be "highliners" yet lack the required ability to calculate the risk they are taking.The insurer's perspective (London. whether or not to change a fishing spot. when and where to land their catch. unpublished. Coton: Fishing vessel safety -. danger. fatalism. success may also relate to the ability to avoid risks. Fishing is highly competitive. The denial of danger. Source: R. over the long term. etc. And you don't stop to eat as often as the other guy. is that the sector is failing to keep up with the rest of the maritime industry in developing a safety culture. which direction to set their gear.Developing a safety culture in fishing Our impression. 1998. better yet. 1999). Fishing is a profession associated with risk-taking. You have to go to find the fish before the other guy finds them and when you do you have got to make them bite better than the other guy.decisions on when and where to go fishing. 18 Dec.5). (30) Box 2. Social and cultural attitudes. You have to be the first boat on the grounds in the morning and the last one to leave at night. Prestige considerations may motivate skippers to take unnecessary risks. whether to head for shelter. you have to work your gear faster than the other guy. experience and skill. You have to keep your lines clean at all times: you can't catch fish if you have jellyfish or junk fish hanging on your hooks. When the bite is on. individual attitude.

Lack of appreciation of the limits of modern technology has led to the taking of undue risks (e. Young fishermen may not only lack the traditional survival skills and equipment but may also feel less vulnerable to accidents than their elders who. evolved through ages of operating traditional technology under specific. The share system can be motivating.(33) The lack of a minimum wage for fishermen and the vagueness associated with fishing income may also lead some fishermen to fish harder and take unnecessary risks. artisanal fisherfolk have inherited time-proven responses to crises at sea. On the day of the cyclone. Old. However. Another factor is a mistrust of modern weather forecasting systems and. the length of the trip. are common themes among many fishermen. perhaps even more so. of those who convey the information. In order to increase their income.(31) Human factor considerations in traditional fisheries(32) In long-standing traditional fisheries. create a sense of team spirit and give everyone a stake in the result. and in first aid and behaviour in emergencies. have more experience in the marine environment. the skipper and crew will ensure that fishing gear is in use for as long as possible. fishing boats out taking good catches did not anticipate bad weather and would not heed the radio warnings to take shelter. may be an important factor in accidents. the introduction of modern technologies into traditional systems has in many cases upset the traditional ways of doing things. the length of the haul and quality requirements. in the use of electronic aids and safety equipment. experienced fishermen for various reasons stay ashore more often. though less skilled in operating modern machinery. local conditions. along with their fishing know-how.requires a technological solution. For example. Efforts to improve safety should begin with trying to understand the fishing culture and to involve the fishers in the development and enforcement of safety regulations. assuming the outboard motor will always work). Influence of the share system and the lack of a minimum wage on safety and health Chapter 1 discusses the various wage arrangements in the fishing industry. including the practice of paying fishermen partly or wholly on the basis of sharing the catch. but it can also cause fishermen to accept poor working conditions and long working hours. messengers issuing the warnings were met in some places with derision by fisherfolk who could not discern the usual storm-indicating signs in the sky and sea. There is also a loss of traditional knowledge not only due to the shift to unfamiliar technologies but also to changes in the age composition of crews.g. This can lead to hasty manoeuvring and the adoption of unsafe practices. A warning from a shoreside official with no fishing experience may not be believed.(34) The right to refuse unsafe work . which is controlled by the size of the catch. when the deadly November 1996 cyclone surprised the Kakinada coast in India. The working rhythm. not always for the better. survival strategies and weather perception that. This is often exacerbated by shortcomings in technical training in engine operation and maritime training in navigation.

have cited fatigue as a contributing factor to casualties and accidents. It was observed that after the first few hours of work there was a progressive reduction in the probability of accidents. and many investigations of casualties and accidents involving fishing vessels. 1981 (No. 155) (see also Chapter 6) provides that: "A worker who has removed himself from a work situation which he has reasonable justification to believe presents an imminent and serious danger to his life or health shall be protected from undue consequences in accordance with national conditions and practice. and problems staying awake.Article 13 of the ILO's Occupational Safety and Health Convention. decision-making or balance". reaction time. The ability of a fisherman to exercise the right to refuse unsafe work will also vary with the persons directly concerned (supervisor. But the necessary condition is the lack of job security. As the author of one study(35) noted: The right to refuse unsafe work on offshore vessels has been cited as a major breakthrough allowing offshore fishers the same rights as onshore workers. there was no special relationship between the death rate and the hours worked. ."(37) A Spanish study of working patterns on fishing vessels examined the time within a working shift when accidents occur. that is. Why? It is not enough to say that physical risks are part of the job and that economic concerns dominate.that is the fear of the loss of work -.6) accidents were seen to relate directly to hours of work. In the context of an investigation. speed. whether the fisherman is protected by a trade union (and the extent of that protection) and the legal and administrative system of the flag State of the fishing vessel. erodes the safety margin or otherwise impairs cognitive or physical performance.is also relevant as is the fear of lost wages for the voyage itself. such as physical discomfort from overworking a group of muscles. and it was suggested that this might be more related to the time of the day at which the accident occurred or other causes. owner). Nor is it enough to argue that peer pressure makes this impossible.(38). difficulty appreciating potentially important signals. The fear of retribution by the captain or the company -. coordination. workers are seen as co-risktakers and as such must take both economic and physical risks." However. The myth of the co-adventurer also plays a part. In another study (see box 2. although it is a necessary part of the equation it is not significant. As of yet. Fatigue Several studies of fishing safety. difficulty concentrating. and the lack of alternative employment opportunities for these men. no crew member has ever evoked this right. There are a number of definitions of the term fatigue as it applies to people. economic instability. However. Fatigue has been defined as "a reduction in physical and/or mental capability as the result of physical. The more serious accidents occurred more frequently when work continued beyond eight hours when the probability increased. mental or emotional exertion which may impair nearly all physical abilities including strength. fatigue is important if it potentially reduces efficiency. skipper.(36) It has also been said that: "Fatigue is used as a catch-all term for a variety of different experiences. it is often difficult for fishermen to exercise this right.

there is a tendency to continue. to name a few. They can be sited near noisy machinery or in a part of the vessel where the motion is great and often the outfitting of the accommodation is quite spartan. They will work beyond their regular six-hour work shift. Time not spend fishing is considered wasted. For example.T. In one study it was observed that the introduction of new containers for storing catch (as an alternative to loading fish loosely in the hold) on deep-sea wet trawlers increased the hours of work for the same tonnage of fish. As one author put it: How long a vessel spends at sea depends on several factors: the number of hauls. Since workers want to get home as fast as possible and to make as much money as possible on a trip. Bamio. When fishing is very good. and push their equipment to the limit in order to bring in large catches of fish. In the most intense fisheries. An example are "olympic" or "derby" fisheries. this is a primary factor that applies regardless of the type of fleet Source: M. with little or no rest. the type of the vessel and manning level are important but much may also depend on the design of the vessel. the frequency of equipment breakdowns. Spain. This may itself be linked to overall vessel design and to the quality of accommodation. the more pay for each. the experience of the captain. they will push themselves when the fishing is good. García Durán: Analysis of acopational accidents:Legal and administrative aspects Paper submitted to the second International Symposium on Safety and Working conditions aboard Fisshing Vessels. On many vessels the best seating consists of a padded bench with a vertical padded backrest along the bulkhead -. and the availability of fish. where fishermen are under great pressure to catch as much as possible before the Total Allowable Catch limit is reached.. coming second to the needs of the fishing and processing equipment. New technology can often alleviate fatigue by reducing the physical exertion of the crew.(40) Fishing management systems may also contribute to fatigue. the availability and maintenance of both fish-finding and fish-catching equipment. this is not always the case. However. unpaid time for every fishermen. But fatigue leads to higher accidents rates(39). Sept. the aptly named "indefinite workday" is a fact of life through the industry. on many vessels crew quarters still seem to be a low priority.not very .6 An excessively long workday The fundamental causes of accidents is the excessively long workday that prevails in the industry. despite excessive working hours and phyysical exhaustation. the sad fact is that any type of fishing. As one insurance representative put it: Fatigue can be caused by many factors. Fatigue may also be related to the quality of the rest and relaxation time.Box 2. this has led to continuous fishing for days on end. the technology involved. people work work 15 to 20 hours a day without a break. The share system (see above) may also contribute to fatigue. It may create incentives for minimizing the number of crew members: the fewer fishermen sharing in the catch. 1992.

would it not be better to provide comfortable accommodation where the off-duty crew can get proper rest so that they come on duty as fresh as possible?(41) Fatigue may be cumulative. may cause fishermen to act in a way that could create dangerous situations. especially where it involves sailing out despite storm forecasts. or overloading the boat.comfortable. The author said such comments were persistent and that.. boat owners. they're sending their men out two and three days after they come in. She said some fishers blamed the unions. As mentioned earlier. can prove tragic. etc. This could create more accidents than what is normal if you could have your rest . . but all agreed that lengthier trips and short periods at home resulted in exhausted men. Usually a crew is required to work for a minimum of 18 hours to 22 hours straight.7 No limits I understand fully that there is no overtime required for a crew member in the fishing vessel. These examples indicate that the linkages between safety and health risks. and others blamed the companies. Fisheries management methods may also have an impact on safety. Box 2. so there is NO overtime pay. One study in Canada included a survey of the view of fishers. Employment contracts of some fishermen do not attempt to hide the extraordinary working hours which lie ahead (see box 2. Economic and fisheries management factors(43) Economic need or temporary financial difficulties such as insufficient earnings and pressure by fish-dealers. They are tired. The company that I've been working for. banks and other creditors. trying to make an extra haul when better judgement dictates to seek shelter.. derby or olympic fisheries may incite fisherfolk to fish in bad weather and take other increased risks. we have five days in port. pay systems and long working hours are crucial. When the most comfortable chair on a ship is in a nice quiet wheelhouse is it so surprising that we are seeing an increase in instances of watchkeepers falling asleep? Rather than putting the emphasis on watch alarms to wake up fatigued watchkeepers. There are also NO definite working hours. Such behaviour..7)..(42) One described his situation as follows: The company sets the work schedule. especially when fishermen have very little time ashore. this was at the cost of non-monetary benefits.. and fatigue. But the bigger companies. Source: Provision from the employment contract of a Filipino fishing vessel crew member on a distantwater fishing vessel. though unions had been able to increase fishers' earnings. They're just tiring the men out more .

A "rush for fish" may also occur under the individual quota system if fishermen suspect that the stock size has been overestimated and deteriorated catches may not pay for their running expenses if they do not catch their share sufficiently early. This may be a useful tool in identifying who should take what actions to prevent and mitigate the effect of future accidents. etc. when the weather is bad some fishermen may still fish in order to take advantage of the higher price paid due to the lower number of fish being landed. who may be less experienced than owner-skippers.1). into the fishery. include such conditions as fatigue. The fifth layer depicts all highlevel decision-makers such as regulators. Where quotas are costly. Reason suggests that these decision-makers frequently make "fallible" decisions and these resulting latent defects stay dormant waiting for someone to commit an unsafe act. designers. operating practices. owners. thus reducing the probability of an accident. The fourth layer (line management) includes such aspects as training. The model shows the importance of reducing or eliminating safety deficiencies. The second layer (unsafe acts) and third layer (preconditions). thus reducing safety. the results of the unsafe act are caught and the effects are limited. In the model (see figure 2. If the system's defences function as intended. very cramped accommodation. United Kingdom.(45) . the first layer (defences) represents defences that should mitigate the results of the unsafe act. stress. and thereby trigger a potential accident scenario. is illustrated by what is known as "Reason's model". the accident could prove tragic. Some fishermen believe that hired skippers may overload their vessels because of pressure or bonuses from the owners and fear of losing their jobs if they land less catch than their colleagues. etc. There is fear that quota systems may lead eventually to the concentration of ownership in fewer hands which may bring non-owner skippers. fishermen may take risks so as to avoid facing bankruptcy. developed by Dr. This model. looks beyond the immediate circumstances of the accident and looks at the preconditions at the time of the occurrence. However.though this method of management does seem to be waning. Efforts to control fishing by limiting the length of vessels have in some cases resulted in rather odd. Reason's model is particularly useful in illustrating how an accident can have a number of causes. wide designs or very. Individual transferable quotas (ITQs) and similar systems might reduce risk-taking as staying in port in bad weather hardly affects the practically guaranteed total catch of each fishing unit involved in such a fishery. Dr. maintenance. James Reason of the University of Manchester. If the defences do not function. etc. trade unions.(44) An integrated approach to looking at accidents One useful way to look at why accidents occur and to emphasize the complexity of accident causation. This can be represented as a reduction in the number or size of the holes. manufacturers.

the owner and the regulator -. in the scenario described above. of how Reason's model might be used to describe an accident on a trawler leading to the loss of a fisherman's arm: (1) the regulations in a given country do not require new entrants to fishing to receive any safety training (decision).The following is a hypothetical example.all the holes in the model were aligned. the skipper. drawn up by the Office. (6) he falls into a winch not fitted with proper guards (a possible defence) and his arm is severed before there is time to stop the winch. For example. The fisherman has lost an arm not only due to deck gear or inattentiveness but also to a series of mistakes by himself. neither does he require the skipper to conduct any training on board (decision or line management). An additional consideration is how to reduce the severity of the consequences of an accident. having spent very little time on deck and having received little or no guidance (line management). (4) the vessel is operating in fairly rough conditions (precondition). . The above example illustrates that measures to prevent accidents as well as to preserve the health of fishermen must be implemented at many levels. (5) everyone is fatigued (precondition) and the newcomer ventures too close to the deck gear (unsafe act) and loses his balance due to an unanticipated motion of the vessel. an experienced crew member becomes ill and the newcomer is asked to fill in. (2) the owner does not require this either (decision). (3) at sea.

Lack of communication equipment on board some small fishing vessels does not help this situation. The purpose of mutuals is not to make a profit but to provide insurance at a low cost. Ideally. All those concerned must consider how they can reduce the number and size of the holes. A serious problem in the fishing industry is that many fishermen have no insurance or. these services are provided by the military. in some cases. removing yet another possible protective measure for injured or sick fishermen. including stock insurance companies. and the laws under which it operates. particularly in developing countries. Those systems which most directly reward fishermen for safe operations. unsafe operators will pay higher rates and may eventually be forced out of business. Policyholders participate in the operations of the company. Inadequate search and rescue services means inadequate medical evacuation services. Fishermen themselves are important elements in search and rescue. In some developing countries. immediate action by a crewmate with proper first-aid training may save a life. it covers the vessels but not the crew.there are latent conditions and immediate actions which can mitigate the severity of the accident. can influence safety and health. safe operators should pay low rates. Insurance(46) Insurance. using either their own vessels or. fishermen and others is one of the major challenges involved in improving the safety record. distance from the coast and the state of search and rescue services of the nearby coastal State or States can vary considerably. . The fisherman whose arm is lost faces permanent disability or even death from bleeding. fishing vessel owners. However. insurance is a profit-making venture. participating in voluntary groups.(47) Members of the mutual are very selective and tend to bar fishermen who do not meet strict criteria. may be most effective. If premiums paid exceed what is needed for losses and expenditures. Lloyd's associations and mutuals. In the first two forms. having voting rights and the power and responsibility to share in the company's financial success and failure. while remaining financially viable. This is generally a problem for fishermen on small vessels. but is not unknown in developed countries. conversely. the coast guard. The latent condition "lack of training in first aid" could result in a death. fishermen are usually in extreme danger. voluntary lifeboat organizations or a combination of any of these. the lack of adequate search and rescue services remains a serious problem. shock or other causes. Search and rescue When a vessel suffers a casualty and either sinks or can no longer manoeuvre. and even some developed ones. Insurance covering accidents and injuries to the crew may take a number of different forms. the weather conditions. part of the surplus can be returned to the policyholders. In most developed countries. if they do have insurance. Search and rescue (SAR) services are on call in many countries. Achieving the appropriate balance of responsibility and action among governments.

etc. the figures are quite staggering.(50) This may reduce the under-reporting of accidents or injuries.(52) Box 2. as well as costs associated with medical evacuation or search and rescue operations (see box 2. New technology may allow the insurance industry to publish more information about incidents on board fishing vessels worldwide so that owners. P&I insurance covers the owner for any legal liabilities which may be incurred towards third parties arising out of the operation of the vessel.(51) The cost of deaths. injury and other costs of all fishing vessel accidents. Taking into account both the direct costs and indirect costs such as drops in stock prices. costs associated with towing. interruptions in operations or loss of contracts among many others. The employer. Conversely.(48) Protection and indemnity insurance can be one of the highest fixed costs faced by fishing vessel owners. pollution. deductibles. The fishermen bear pain and loss of income and sometimes even lose their lives. community and country may have to bear part or all of the costs of hospitalization. injuries and illnesses Accidents and illnesses in the fishing industry are costly. insurance premiums. in 1987 in the United Kingdom the cost of P&I insurance was approximately 5 to 10 per cent of a vessel's premium expenditure while in the United States it was closer to 50 per cent.8 The cost of lost lives and vessels in the United States fishing industry Total loss of vessel and deaths are just the tip of the iceberg when identifying the property. such awards may serve as a powerful incentive to provide a safe workplace. operators and designers can learn of the problems that others have encountered and the solutions they have found. when a vessel casualty occurs. According to the study "The economic impacts of accidents on the marine industry". Insurers could play a greater role in improving safety and health in the future. Premiums are as much as twice (per tonne) of those of other commercial vessel operators and may vary between countries.(49) Workers' compensation systems may benefit employers by relieving them of the primary responsibility for work-related illnesses and injuries and the burden of potentially large awards granted by judges or juries in liability trials. unemployment benefits. clearing blocked waterways.8 below) and. and P&I club payments. co-payments. Such systems may also remove the threat of large jury awards following severe accidents. may help to encourage fishermen to seek medical assistance and may lead to better data on the nature and extent of injuries and illnesses. at that time. The family shares in this suffering as well as in the stress that comes from knowing that fishing is a dangerous profession. This may include paying compensation to crew members injured at work and providing medical care in a foreign port. perhaps due to the legal system and. For example.Protection and indemnity (P&I) clubs are a form of mutual. to the very limited safety regulations governing fishing vessels. accidents cost the .

and the cost of Coast Guard search and rescue (SAR) for fishing vessels. skippers and shore management (e. expending over 38. M. costs associated with employee welfare and benefit systems.g. loss of bonuses. the ILO has published a code of practice entitled Recording and notification of occupational accidents and diseases (Geneva. thousands of Asia and Pacific region fishermen -. In an effort to develop the basic requirements for the collection.and their family members -. Ben-Yami: Risks and dangers in small-scale fisheries: An overview. Spitzer: Fishing Vessel Casualty Task Force Report (United States Coast Guard. 5. payment of forfeits and other similar causes).3 working days lost per injury. and overhead costs per injured employee. recording and notification of reliable data on occupational accidents.000 resource hours at a cost of approximately $45. interference with fishing and processing activities (failure to fulfil orders on time. the cost may be experienced in a number of ways. . 1999). 3.g. Available data for 1992 and 1993 show the Coast Guard conducted over 8. with an average of 29. out of curiosity. assisting the injured fisherman. 2. 1996). These include the working time lost by an injured fisherman. and four times greater than the passenger vessel industry. arranging for the fisherman's job to be taken over by another fisherman. etc. an unpublished paper prepared for the Office in view of this report. out of sympathy. loss of profit on the injured fisherman's productivity and on idle equipment. regional and international measures and activities which have aimed to improve safety and health in the fishing industry.have been lost to storms and coastal flooding. Not included in these statistics are losses of productivity. This is more than three times the annual cost identified in that study for the tanker industry. consequences of excitement or weakened morale of the crew due to the accident. Mar. cost of continuing wages of the injured fisherman after his return (although he or she may not be fully productive). other indirect costs.(54) Chapters 3 to 5 will look at actions as examples of national. Source: J.000 SAR cases for fishing vessels.7 million. WorkSafe Western Australia determined that the average cost per lost time injury claim was Aus$6. time lost by officers.197. the expense of running the vessel which continues while the injured employee is a non-producer. This is described in Ch. In the last few decades alone. diseases and related statistics. time lost by other fishermen and crew members who stop work (e. investigating the cause of the accident. damage to equipment or other property or the spoilage of material and fish. For the fishing vessel owner. 1.D.).fishing industry over $240 million annually. preparing mandatory accident reports and attending hearings before state officials). to assist an injured fisherman.(53) During 1994-95.

1992. Rafnsson. Morocco. op. Rafnsson: "Health problems and disease patterns". Mar. 8. 19. 21. M. No. V. Estonia (11x). in ILO: Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety. Dr.5x). Spain. cit. 17. Ólafsdóttir: "Musculoskeletal disorders among fishermen and workers in the fish processing industry". China. Minko: On safety and health in the Russian fishing industry (Kaliningrad State Technical University). Steiner and A. Dr. Elsevier Science B. Embick: "Tendonitis and related afflictions in fishermen and processing workers". Ch. 15. Lithuania (11x). 5. Tomaszunas: "Work-related lost-time accidents in deep-sea fishermen". S.M. see H. Cuba. FAO. H. cit. Smith. Poland (9x). 14. A. Poland). Canada.D. personal communication (1999). 7. op. in Alaska Sea-Grams (University of Alaska). in ILO: Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety (Geneva. 11. 3. Brazil. Romania (2x). in Safety Science (Amsterdam. Consultant. a paper prepared for the ILO. Bárdarson: "Major sectors and processes". Netherlands. Germany. 1999). 18. Sweden. 27. 1987. A. 9. Poland. 13. cit. Hansen. Denmark. 16. Iceland.4. 66: "Fishing". Vol. cit. V. Spain (6x) and Canada (3. 43. Slovenia. study presented to the 6th Occupational Medicine Congress (Casablanca. 1995). op. Argentina. 6. Other estimated comparative rates for 1997 (with x indicating the occupational fatality rate for the general population) include Republic of Korea (15x). Norway. Danish Maritime Occupational Health Services and Danish Maritime Authorities. op. France. Törner et al. R. United Kingdom. J.L.: "Analysis of serious occupational accidents in Swedish fishery". . Vanuatu and Hong Kong. V. 1/4. Ben-Yami. 12. For a brief description of fishing methods. Italy (21x). in Bulletin of the Institute of Maritime and Tropical Medicine (Gdynia. FAO.V. No. Smith. Jan.. Spitzer: Fishing Vessel Casualty Task Force Report (United States Coast Guard. in ILO: Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety. 1998). H. 10. 1997). personal correspondence (1999). Teimmi: Les troubles musculo-squelettiques (TMS) chez les marins pêcheurs. 4th edition. No. A.

op. 47. Poland). FAO. Smith. J. cit. 24. R. commercial spear gun fishing. 1/4. 19. extracting fish from shallow-water set nets. J. Sep. 32. Bamio. Dr. No. Poggie. tidal flats and other shallows. Kjerstad and J. 30. Bamio. Stoop: Safety and working conditions aboard fishing vessels.). diving and collecting sea cucumbers and molluscs. op. estuaries. pearl shells and trochus. Such as beach seining. Jones: "Perceptions of vessel safety regulations: A southern New England fishery. 26. 1992. cit. 1992.P. Vol. O. A. backwaters. 27. Ben-Yami. Paper submitted to .M. Barrey: Payment method and safety. Paper submitted to the Second International Symposium on Safety and Working Conditions aboard Fishing Vessels. as well as undertaking such illicit practices as fish poisoning and fishing with explosives.P. 34.: Fishing vessel safety: Blueprint for a national program (Washington. Bloch: Links between the catch-share payment system of seamen in the artisanal fishing sector and their safety and working conditions: Some examples in Normandy. Paper submitted to the Second International Symposium on Safety and Working Conditions aboard Fishing Vessels. Pollnac and S. Spain. Ben-Yami. Ben-Yami. Ben-Yami. 31. 22. Pröpper: An analysis and evaluation of occupational accidents and possible solutions for technical safety improvements on Dutch beam trawlers. Vol. Proceedings of the World Symposium on Fishing Gear and Fishing Vessel Design (The Newfoundland and Labrador Institute of Fisheries and Marine Technology. Elsevier Science Ltd. harvesting seaweed. Jensen: "Mortality in Danish fishermen". op. 1992. Sep. Spain. cit. 5. E. 1989). 1991). op. No. 21. 33.20. Sep. J. Grinde: "Working environment and health aspects in fishing vessels". op. 25. personal correspondence (1999). 23.A. in Bulletin of the Institute of Maritime and Tropical Medicine (Gdynia. fishing and collecting "seed" fry for aquaculture while wading in mangrove channels. J. diving for lobsters. 1995. Ben-Yami. National Research Council et al. in Marine Policy (Oxford. 28. H. DC. tidal stopnets. 29. cit. Paper submitted to the Second International Symposium on Safety and Working Conditions aboard Fishing Vessels. Spain. cit. 1996. Bamio.

Coton: Fishing vessel safety -.D. 35.Physical. 70th Session of the Maritime Safety Committee (London. 1995). and rewards . and rewards in the Nova Scotia offshore fishery (Montreal & Kingston. M. 45. Spain. 1999). Andro and Y. R.Analysis of accidents involving fishing vessels in Canada (Transportation Safety Board of Canada. July 1987. economic and social considerations ". Risks. Rimouski. 1992. Spain. op. Maritime Safety Committee Circular MSC/Cir. unpublished paper. MSC 70/13. McGill-Queen's University Press.813/MEPC/Circ. Ayeko: Causes & contributing factors -. Nixon. Ben-Yami. 36.com/mlibrary/busman/selfinsu.the Second International Symposium on Safety and Working Conditions aboard Fishing Vessels. cit.html. at http://www. etc. 31. Bamio. Philbrick (eds. Binkley: Risks. of IMO: Report of the joint session of the Joint MSC/MEPC Working Groups on the Human Element and on Formal Safety Assessment. Workshop summary report. 1992. Sep. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Safety and Working Conditions aboard Fishing Vessels.The insurer's perspective (London. doc. op. This problem may also be related to certification requirements for skippers and other fishermen. 37. 38. This description of Reason's model draws considerably from M. cit. dangers. Shipowners' P&I Club. 47.. Marugán Pintos: Industrial accidents in the fishing sector.nationalfisherman. Bamio. Aug. 41. 46.. M. D. No. National Workshop on Fishing Vessel Insurance and Safety. i. M. Sep. . B. Paper submitted to the Second International Symposium on Safety and Working Conditions aboard Fishing Vessels.e. 9 June 1998). Moran and C. 1989. cit.): "Self-insurance programmes in the commercial fishing industry". in Marine Advisory Bulletin. 42. Le Roy: Problems in introducing new technology to fishery.330. Paper submitted to the Second International Symposium on Safety and Working Conditions aboard Fishing Vessels. 43. Bamio. 44. Binkley. Fatigue. Coton. 1992. Canada. Spain.. unpublished. Binkley: "Modern fisheries risk -. Sep. engineer. Annex I. op. 39. 40. 1999). R. dangers. when the vessel is designed so that when measured by length or volume (gt/grt) it is just below the size requiring a certified captain.

7050 or email: sector@ilo. op. 1983) as reported by D. Canada.au/ safetyline/sowe/ws_stats/ws_8397.799. Bamio. 54. It was approved by BW/OdVR. in Nixon et al.48.22. ibid. 83/97 at http://sage. cit.wt. Spain. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Safety and Working Conditions aboard Fishing Vessels. 13 February 2002. op. It was last updated . 53. Fax: +41. op. J. B. Appave. Updated by AN/BR.799. Binkley. Sep.org SECTOR: [ Top | SECTOR Home | About Sector | Sectors | Meetings | Publications | Contact us ] © 1996-2011 International Labour Organization (ILO) | Copyright and Permissions | Privacy policy | Disclaimer . Cervera Hernández: Renting as a vector to explain safety levels. 1989.com. please contact the Sectoral Activities Department (SECTOR) at Tel: +41. 49.. 1992. 52. cit. For further information. WorkSafe Western Australia. cit. Coton. Rimouski. 51.7501.22.html This page was created by RP/CP. a Worker's Education Manual (Geneva. Paper submitted to the Second International Symposium on Safety and Working Conditions aboard Fishing Vessels. Gristwood: "Views from the UK insurance market". 50. in "The role of the ILO in the improvement of safety and working conditions aboard fishing vessels". Based on ILO: Accident Prevention. Bulletin No. WorkSafe Statistics. Aug.

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