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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.

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

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

the distribution of access to fisheries.conservation. Many vessels process the catch on board and are equipped with effective fish-finding . 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). Technical developments have also taken place in fish handling and processing and the location of processing. health and conditions of work on board fishing vessels. to distribute the catch among different groups of fishermen. the associated adjustment problems. It also includes references to certain ILO standards (e. concerning repatriation of fishermen). the implications of postharvesting policies and practices on responsible fishing. Such efforts have included restricting fishing seasons. such as the degree to which fishermen. and the social implications of responsible fisheries. have a voice in the management process. The improvement and modernization of boats and fishing equipment have increased fishing productivity and efficiency and affected the working conditions and lives of fishermen.(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. fishing operations. limiting the "total allowable catch" and setting individual quotas. March 1999) adopted the Rome Declaration on the Implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Further impetus was given to the Code when the FAO Ministerial Meeting on Fisheries (Rome. management and development of all fisheries. including vessel owners and representatives of fishermen's organizations. 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. or at least ease. and the impact on employment. processing and trade of fish and fishery products. regional or global conservation and management measures or with internationally agreed minimum standards for the prevention of pollution and for safety. local economies and whole fishing communities.g. in some cases.(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". fisheries research and the integration of fisheries into coastal area management. and also covers the capture. the impact on fisheries resource sustainability of government financial transfers. The Code encourages port States to check fishing vessels for compliance with subregional. While fisheries management issues fall at the international level within the mandate of the FAO. This involves four related studies: an evaluation of the potential gains and costs involved in the transition to responsible fisheries. Chapter 2 includes a discussion of the possible relationship between fisheries management and fisherman safety. aquaculture. The work is scheduled for completion in late 1999. 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.

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

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

stereo system and are equipped for TV. Box 1. poor conditions prevail on many fishing vessels (see box 1.1). messrooms and recreational spaces that are modern. rather than after. Most owners have realized that decent conditions are needed to attract. in the contract of engagement or in the relevant legislation or collective agreement. the deduction of operating costs.from its sale. They also receive a share of the catch calculated on the basis of the gross proceeds from its sale. fishermen receive both a regular salary and a share of the catch.2 Not such an easy life for some* "The fishermen are packed in boats with the complicity of local agents. The members of the crew receive a fixed salary which is stipulated in the charter party." More light and space for the crew has been created by raising the mess area to provide bigger windows. but the sharing is usually done before. A private crew's telephone room is provided and the cabins are arranged with five on trawl deck level and seven below. from staterooms. Separate washing and drying machines are fitted to deal with personal and working clothes. toilet.Fishing News International (London). well-equipped and comfortable to those that are extremely cramped and unhealthy. The captain has his own shower room. In addition.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. despite . A fridge and microwave are sited in the messroom. * Description of accommodation facilities on a Spanish-built wet fish stern trawler built for Norwegian owners -. July 1998. in inhuman conditions. In some operations. Box 1. Accommodation obviously also varies in accordance with the economic situation and the length of time the vessel is expected to remain at sea. while there are boot warmers and clothes hangers in a room which has direct access to both the processing deck and the trawl deck. However. sustain and retain a good crew (see box 1. Living conditions at sea Accommodation on fishing vessels covers the full range of conditions.2). and crewmen can wash off their dining plates and put them in a dishwasher in the messroom. despite the close proximity to the galley. bedroom and day room/office. all cabins have a shower.

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. and help in drafting appropriate laws and regulations.notoriously dangerous work. training.000 for violating child labour laws after employing children as young as 10 years old to catch lobsters. non-governmental organizations and others seeking to provide accommodation. for example. employment opportunities. repairing nets. a significant portion of the fishing industry has been composed of children working as fish sorters. Children are also employed in deep-sea pearl diving in the Aru Islands of South East Maluku. Child labour and fishing Many children are working in the fishing industry. the ILO recently adopted a Convention concerning the "worst forms of child labour". (31) As described in Chapter 6. is likely to harm the health. 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 -. with other duties sometimes including repairing nets..(29) Child labour in the fishing sector is sometimes found in developed countries. others fish in Vietnamese. health care. a workshop was held in Indonesia to address child labour in fishing in Jermal. Some of the vessels concerned stay within Thai waters. Malaysian or Indonesian waters and may be at sea for several months. which includes work which.(30) Through its International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour. children have also been employed in the muro-ami fishing industry.(32) . diving to drive away unwanted fish. sit properly. In March 1999. This involved the Indonesian Government. 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. steering. Their duties include placing and hauling fishing nets. factory workers and fishing vessel crew. The following are examples. by its nature or the circumstances in which it is carried out. In 1998. formal education. a lobsterman in the United States was fined over US$50. cooking. In southern Thailand. either as members of a fishing family or working for others. children have worked in the fishing industry in Gempol Sewu on the coast of Kabupaten Kendal in Central Java.. the provincial government of North Sumatra. This has included handling nets.(28) In Indonesia.(27) In the Philippines. safety or morals of children. or sleep in the position of one's choice . to assist not only the children but also their parents. sorting fish and carrying fish baskets ashore. draining boats and preparing meals." * Description of conditions on certain European and Asian distant-water vessels off West Africa -Reported by the Collectif national des pêcheurs artisanaux du Sénégal. the ILO works to address this situation.the regulatory measures provided by the state and the actions undertaken by our union during seminars designed to sensitize and prick consciences.

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

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

as this may reveal means of improving conditions of a sadly unprotected group of workers. FAO. including improving recruitment practices. giving its fishermen's trade union affiliates an international voice in international fishing debates. 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. identifying social and legal assistance services.An International Seminar-Workshop on the conditions of fishworkers on distant-water vessels. with some support from the ILO. made a number of recommendations to improve conditions. In 1991. By way of example. or proposed links. 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. implementation by national governments of international laws. held in Manila in 1991. For example. labour rights and social security for deepsea fishworkers and their families. active fishermen's trade unions and other organizations. 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. has sought to address long-standing divisions among certain groups of fishermen. The ITF has held a number of regional seminars on these and other issues. among other things. the ITF adopted a policy statement calling for cooperation between small-scale or artisanal fishermen and industrial fishermen. the United Federation of Labour. It has also tried to establish closer links with other non-governmental organizations of fishermen. collecting basic information on fishworkers' problems and conditions.(47) . the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) has strengthened and expanded its activities in the fishing sector and. In 1998. improving training. ILO. 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. Sri Lanka. The participants also agreed that fishworkers who were organized in trade unions were generally better treated than their counterparts. IMO and OECD. organizing fishworkers.(46) In 1999. 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.(45) Information on any links. and improving the communication/education of fishworkers' groups. as well as measures aimed at mitigating the resulting negative socio-economic consequences. The globalization of the fishing industry has led to a subsequent strengthening of the voice of fishermen at the regional and international levels. including ILO and IMO standards. 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. Social dialogue in the fishing industry Many countries have a long history of strong.(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.

8. excluding aquaculture. That c929. Intermediate Technology Publications. hunting and forestry. using either the International Standard Industrial Classification of all Economic Activities (ISIC) Revision 2 or ISIC Revision 3. FAO: The state of world fisheries and aquaculture 1998 (Rome. FAO and other forums. The term "fisherman" is gender neutral. 6. Europêche has been the voice of fishing vessel owners on labour and other issues before the European Commission (see Chapter 4). FAO: The state of world fisheries and aquaculture this still represents the best available information on global employment in the fishing sector. op. The data on total employment are also classified by occupation.htm.National owners' organizations have played an important role in safety and other matters in their respective countries. Alain le Sann: A livelihood from fishing: Globalization and sustainable fisheries policies (London. 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. at the major group level. fishing is incorporated in Major Division 1 of ISIC Rev. 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. 9. 3. 1999). 1. fishermen are not identified separately. These relate to total employment (paid employment plus self-employment) and persons in paid employment. 2. The ILO publishes a number of relevant series on workers in its Yearbook of Labour Statistics. See http://www. separate data may be available for fishing. 5.either the 1968 revision (ISCO-68) or the 1988 revision (ISCO-88). All these series are classified according to economic activity. cit.htm. and is the term used in ILO instruments. FAO: The state of world fisheries and aquaculture 1996 (Rome. Where ISIC Rev. 4. However. .2 along with agriculture.fao. 7. Consequently. 1997). 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.3 is used. 1998). The International Coalition of Fisheries Associations has represented fishing vessel owners at the United Nations. according to International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO) -. otherwise.

http://www.html. with updates.fao. 26.htm. 24. 18. Nitiruangjaras et al. J. See also discussion of ILO Convention No. 1997). ILO: Fishermen's conditions of work and life (Geneva. 1997).fao. Wigan: The last of the hunter gatherers (Shrewsbury. at http://www. S. cit. 22. 11. on ILO: Fishermen's conditions of work and life.oecd. 35 (Rome. Of vessels 24 metres and over and 100 grt and over. ILO. cit. Nexus Media 21. see http://www. 6. 1998). For the text of the dece. 19. 1993).greenpeace. 1999). 14. ILO/Atma Jaya Research Centre. Lloyd's Register of Shipping World Fleet Statistics. United Kingdom. MSC 71/10/1. see http://www. Based. with updates. cit. Based on World Fishing: Fisherman's manual (Kent. 23.. 12. FAO: Open registers. 16. op. 17. ibid. op. V. 25. on ILO: Fishermen's conditions of work and life. M. 1996 (London. op. doc. Fitzpatrick and C. submitted by the FAO to the 71st Session of the IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (Mar. 13. op. Newton: Assessment of the world's fishing fleet 1991-1997. CFI/4/1988/1).org/agr/policy/ag-fish/index. Fitzpatrick and Newton. 1996). cit. Pardoen: Children in hazardous work in the informal sector in Indonesia (Jakarta.htm. 27. . Rialp: Children and hazardous work in the Philippines (Geneva. FAO: The state of world fisheries and aquaculture 1998.10. K. 20. 155 in Ch.: A research on child labour in the fishery industry and other continued industries in Pattani (Thailand. 15. 28. Based. 29. FAO: Bulletin of Fishery Statistics. For further information on how to obtain these reports. doc.R. 1998). 1998).

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

General Secretary. South Asian Labour Forum.7501. 42. inter alia. This situation has been described in considerable detail in H.799. For further information. however. 23 July 1998. This page was created by RP/CP.22. aware that the Falkland Islands Legislative Council. Updated by AN/BR.22. 47. as reported in Fishing News International (London). Mahadevan et al. 46. 43. Personal correspondence forwarded by Jacques Harel. Report on the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers' Seminar-Workshop on the conditions of fishworkers on distant-water vessels (ICSF. It was last updated . "The fishermen's story". May 1998). please contact the Sectoral Activities Department (SECTOR) at Tel: +41. 44.799. It was approved by BW/OdVR. companies and masters shown to be involved in human rights abuses".41. International Christian Maritime Assocation.: Fishworkers as prisoners of war (New 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 .7050 or email: sector@ilo. 13 February 2002. 45. 1998-99). Belgium. ILO: Trade unions and organizations of fisherfolks (1992). Letter to the ILO from the United Federation of Labour. Fax: +41. 1999. June 1998. It is. investigative report (four-part series. in Asia Now. 1991). Mar. "unanimously endorsed a motion on 25 March to take action to deny fishing licences to vessels.

7. 3. 6. 8. 4.Top of Form en ILOHQ_STELLENT Submit Bottom of Form 1. 2. 5. . About the ILO Topics Regions Meetings and events Programmes and projects Publications Labour standards Statistics and databases Sectoral Activities .Social Dialogue SECTOR Home | What's New | About SECTOR | Meetings | Publications | Discussion Forum | Contact Us | Links | Site Map Quick link to sectors: Top of Form Browse by theme: Top of Form Select a sector: Select a theme: Bottom of Form Bottom of Form Go to main meeting page.

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

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

000 workers or approximately 24.000 person-years compared to 8. from 1989 to 1996. the rate was double the national average. drowning) or indirectly to other causes (capsizing of vessel. slipping) or be specific to fishing (caught in trawl winch). 16 times higher than such occupations as fire-fighting and police work and over 40 times the national average. the rate was 25-30 times higher than the rate for those employed on land. the fatality rate for fishermen was 143/100. falling over the side). Occupational fatalities and injuries in the fishing industry in selected countries.they may be attributed directly to one cause (e. between 1982 and 1984.069 0. They can be categorized under various headings.(4) Table 2.000 deaths per year.1/100. Accidents may be attributed to a primary event or an underlying or primary cause. lack of training). and estimates that there are 24 million non-fatal accidents in the sector annually. fishing gear). In Australia. The ILO's Occupational Safety and Health Branch estimates that fishing has a worldwide fatality rate of 80 per 100. in Tunisia in 1994. over 400 fishermen are reported killed in accidents each year.2514 . Causes may be described in very general terms used for all professions (falling from height.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. including by vessel size.g. The external environment may be seen as the cause (bad weather) or an accident may be attributed to the human element (inattention. in China.000 generally. Table 2.077 0. the death rate was estimated at eight times that of persons operating motor vehicles for a living.1 presents statistics on occupational fatalities and injuries in the fishing industry in selected countries.11 0. in Denmark. they may be associated with certain types of fishing (trawling.(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. 1997 Country Persons injured Persons Persons Fatality rate (per 1. in the United States in 1996. fatigue. longlining) or to certain types of equipment (winches.1.

073('95) 0.(5) Tables 2. Table 2.057 4.800 0.1017 0.077 5. Lives lost by category of vessel casualty for 18 countries.6496 1 194.3 divide fishing vessels into three size categories: less than 12 metres.01 0.17 0. 12-24 metres and over 24 metres.454 0.588 0. Fatalities due to vessel casualties Vessel casualties are obviously a major risk and cause of death to fishermen.33 0.211 0.026 2.049 0. 1995-97 .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.228 2. 1998).073('95) 0. Source: ILO: Yearbook of Labour Statistics (Geneva.5('96) 0.48 10 554 11 121 2 493 5 701 15 46 0 4('96) 1 8 ('96) 14 41 15 ('96) 0 0.Rep. Table 2. 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 0.2 and 2.075 0.2.489 17('96) * Data for fishing industry may include shoreworkers.023 0.

and to the wrecking or stranding of fishing vessels. of the 57 per cent of deaths directly related to vessel casualties.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. doc. Note by the Secretariat (London. 281 227 210 718 Source: IMO: Collection and analysis of casualty statistics of fishing vessels and fishermen. fires or explosions. flooding and capsizing. is only a sampling of the world fleet. FSI 7/6/2. 29 Jan. most are due to sinking. 1999). In the United States (which is not reflected in the table and which uses a different set of vessel casualty categories).(6) This. and it is likely that in some of these countries the fatalities are under-reported. however. This table indicates that the greatest number of fatalities are related to foundering. In some fishing communities there may be no .

Table 2. or from taking heavy beam seas following loss of power. 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. inappropriate modification.3 shows data from 18 countries (see footnote 5) on lives lost due to accidents on board during the period 1995-97. asphyxiation from working in an enclosed space. This may result from falling overboard.3. fatality statistics may only be partially representative of reality (see also the discussion of statistics in Chapter 5). Thus. Foundering may be caused by the fishing vessel experiencing conditions which exceed its design or by hull failure due to poor maintenance. There are many reasons why casualties occur. slipping or falling on board as a result of vessel motion. Table 2. There may also be no requirement for deaths to be reported to the local. improper loading or ballasting of the vessel. capsizing may result from poor design. 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 . a stranding may be the result of poor navigation or uncharted shoals. Lives lost due to accidents on board. etc.death certificates or coroner's report. handling fishing gear. district or national authorities. 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.

search and rescue (SAR) and early warning services. ice conveyor belts. were indicated. op. it is very evident that falling overboard (or going missing) remains a major cause of death.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. Circumstances such as overloading.(7) just over half resulting from vessels sinking. during the 1989-90 period. improper alterations to structure. cit. A study of fatal accidents in the Danish industrial fishing fleet during the period 1989-96 reported 70 such accidents. In Guinea.12 fishermen died due to some sort of accident involving machinery (winches. Among these losses are drownings or deaths from hypothermia. 61 59 76 196 Source: IMO: Collection and analysis of casualty statistics. Most fatalities on small vessels (less than 20 grt) occurred during the winter months in bad weather. Several fishermen were killed owing to being pulled over the side by gear or otherwise falling overboard and drowning -. etc. some 120 deaths in about 640 accidents were reported.). and. safety procedures.000 artisanal marine fishermen. use of vessels beyond their capacity. fish traders and their families) dies in a canoe accident. a survey disclosed that during one year every 15th canoe has an accident. first aid. trawl doors. for small vessels.(8) . 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. Fatalities involving vessels over 20 grt resulted from lack of. In Oceania. a small country with some 7. Fatal accidents in small-scale artisanal fishing Artisanal and other small-scale vessels often operate with less than adequate safety and communication equipment. Bearing in mind that the information presented above only covers a small group of countries. 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. or inadequate.

When a fisherman returns to his boat at night (in some cases under the influence of alcohol). fatal poisoning and asphyxia.2 per cent. wrists -. Some diseases. head and neck -.18 per cent. Infections. cancers of the lip.1 .7 per cent. stomach cancer and lung cancer are also indicated as important problems. fractures -. lung and stomach. arms and legs as well as injuries to the head and neck.(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. Skin diseases were related to handling fish or other marine life without using gloves. These rungs are sometimes twisted or.475 Polish deep-sea fishermen from 1977 to 1986 recorded that the most frequent types of injuries were: contusions and crushing -.25.(13) Other diseases and health problems An ILO survey (see box 2.4 per cent and wounds -. Fatal poisoning was often related to the inhalation of toxic fumes caused by fires on board. For example.(10) The body regions most frequently injured include the hands.17.1) and other information indicates that many fishermen also suffer from skin and respiratory diseases. legs -. Hypertension. such as salt-water boils and injury by or allergic reactions to marine life are peculiar to fishing. hearing loss. Occupational asthma was associated with several types of fish but mostly with crustaceans and molluscs.(9) Non-fatal accidents Non-fatal accidents are common in the fishing industry. Lip cancer (and skin cancer) are probably the result of excessive exposure to the sun. skin diseases. Common problems include occupational asthma. spine and abdomen. hands. lower limbs. head and neck and upper limbs. in the darkness with no one else around.(15) Box 2. access to vessels is normally by ladders indented into the pier with steel rungs.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.29 per cent. Due to the common method of mooring the vessels in parallel.(12) Others categorize accidents according to the nature of the injury sustained. the fisherman then has to cross several vessels to reach his own. as well as from the effects of noise and vibration. followed by the chest. It may also relate to the use of asbestos and other materials in machinery spaces. such an obstacle course can be fatal. sprains and contusions. Asphyxiation or poisoning occurred due to the lack of oxygen or the build-up of toxic gases in enclosed spaces. coronary heart diseases.Most fishing vessels are too small to be fitted with accommodation ladders. fractures. lacerations and minor traumas of the hands and finger are quite frequent. missing.10 per cent. Many non-fatal injuries may involve amputation of fingers. Such a traverse is risky even in daylight under normal circumstances. The most common types of traumas are open wounds. strains. Information on the Russian fleet reveals that hands were injured in 41 per cent of accidents. even worse. In harbours with a rise and fall of the tide. a study of lost-time accidents covering 10. Lung cancer may be related to excessive smoking among fishermen.

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

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

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

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

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

in an age when technology-based solutions can be oversold. these discussions have helped remind us. op. 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.<12 12<<24 >24 <12 12<<24 >24 <12 12<<24 >24 Human error Steering gear failure Fishing gear incident Other failure of vessel. While always recognizing that human and equipment causes can often not be clearly separated. of how action or lack of action by people is essential to safety.2). 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. Box 2.2 . 134 99 110 343 Source: IMO: Collection and analysis of casualty statistics.

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

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

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

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

Coton: Fishing vessel safety -. etc. Morton and B. experience and skill. Such decisions take into account weather changes. 18 Dec. 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. in The Fishermen. better yet. When the bite is on. the belief that safety is a problem that primarily . Accidents may happen to those who aspire to be "highliners" yet lack the required ability to calculate the risk they are taking.5 What it takes to be a highliner This is what it takes to be a highliner.Developing a safety culture in fishing Our impression. Prestige considerations may motivate skippers to take unnecessary risks. Most of the time this will give you the little edge you need to beat the hell out of most. Source: R. gained through the experience of investigating several hundred fishing vessel accidents annually. beliefs and values play an important role in the perception of. independence. and response to. you have to work your gear faster than the other guy. Highly successful fishermen or "highliners" enjoy tremendous prestige among fisherfolk and their communities (see box 2. it may also be true that. is that the sector is failing to keep up with the rest of the maritime industry in developing a safety culture. individual attitude. Proctor: "Heart of the raincoast: A life story".(29) This being said. what method/gear to use. You have to be the first boat on the grounds in the morning and the last one to leave at night. 1998.5). the condition of the fishing vessel and equipment. you don't eat at all. Fishing is highly competitive. Social and cultural attitudes. whether or not to change a fishing spot. 1999). They depend on the skipper's culture. unpublished. which direction to set their gear. over the long term. and so on. Shipowners' P&I Club.D. 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.The insurer's perspective (London. The denial of danger. danger. Many fishermen have a different perception of danger to shoreside workers. Fishing is a profession associated with risk-taking. And you don't stop to eat as often as the other guy. the condition and dexterity of the crew. Source: A. fatalism. whether to head for shelter. success may also relate to the ability to avoid risks. (30) Box 2.decisions on when and where to go fishing. Elements of risk of various sorts and degrees are inherent in almost every decision made by a skipper or individual fisherman -. when and where to land their catch.

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

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

the aptly named "indefinite workday" is a fact of life through the industry.(40) Fishing management systems may also contribute to fatigue. on many vessels crew quarters still seem to be a low priority. they will push themselves when the fishing is good.T.. Since workers want to get home as fast as possible and to make as much money as possible on a trip. It may create incentives for minimizing the number of crew members: the fewer fishermen sharing in the catch. The share system (see above) may also contribute to fatigue. people work work 15 to 20 hours a day without a break. Spain. and the availability of fish. despite excessive working hours and phyysical exhaustation. In the most intense fisheries.not very . to name a few. 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. 1992. this has led to continuous fishing for days on end. and push their equipment to the limit in order to bring in large catches of fish. the technology involved. Time not spend fishing is considered wasted. 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. coming second to the needs of the fishing and processing equipment. But fatigue leads to higher accidents rates(39). the more pay for each. On many vessels the best seating consists of a padded bench with a vertical padded backrest along the bulkhead -. the frequency of equipment breakdowns. the sad fact is that any type of fishing. the experience of the captain. there is a tendency to continue.6 An excessively long workday The fundamental causes of accidents is the excessively long workday that prevails in the industry. where fishermen are under great pressure to catch as much as possible before the Total Allowable Catch limit is reached. 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. For example. 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. As one insurance representative put it: Fatigue can be caused by many factors. When fishing is very good. Sept. Bamio. unpaid time for every fishermen. They will work beyond their regular six-hour work shift. Fatigue may also be related to the quality of the rest and relaxation time. However. the availability and maintenance of both fish-finding and fish-catching equipment.Box 2. this is a primary factor that applies regardless of the type of fleet Source: M. this is not always the case. As one author put it: How long a vessel spends at sea depends on several factors: the number of hauls. An example are "olympic" or "derby" fisheries. This may itself be linked to overall vessel design and to the quality of accommodation. New technology can often alleviate fatigue by reducing the physical exertion of the crew.

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

etc. Where quotas are costly. thus reducing safety. There is fear that quota systems may lead eventually to the concentration of ownership in fewer hands which may bring non-owner skippers. thus reducing the probability of an accident. maintenance. Dr. This model. very cramped accommodation. who may be less experienced than owner-skippers. etc. owners. 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. and thereby trigger a potential accident scenario. trade unions.though this method of management does seem to be waning. designers. fishermen may take risks so as to avoid facing bankruptcy. stress. The second layer (unsafe acts) and third layer (preconditions). the first layer (defences) represents defences that should mitigate the results of the unsafe act.1). The model shows the importance of reducing or eliminating safety deficiencies. 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. This can be represented as a reduction in the number or size of the holes. 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. looks beyond the immediate circumstances of the accident and looks at the preconditions at the time of the occurrence.(45) . This may be a useful tool in identifying who should take what actions to prevent and mitigate the effect of future accidents. In the model (see figure 2. The fifth layer depicts all highlevel decision-makers such as regulators. operating practices.(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. developed by Dr. 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. etc. manufacturers. the accident could prove tragic. The fourth layer (line management) includes such aspects as training. into the fishery. wide designs or very. is illustrated by what is known as "Reason's model". include such conditions as fatigue. If the defences do not function. However. Reason's model is particularly useful in illustrating how an accident can have a number of causes. James Reason of the University of Manchester. 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. the results of the unsafe act are caught and the effects are limited. If the system's defences function as intended. Efforts to control fishing by limiting the length of vessels have in some cases resulted in rather odd. United Kingdom.

The above example illustrates that measures to prevent accidents as well as to preserve the health of fishermen must be implemented at many levels. (4) the vessel is operating in fairly rough conditions (precondition). 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.The following is a hypothetical example. (2) the owner does not require this either (decision). an experienced crew member becomes ill and the newcomer is asked to fill in. . (3) at sea. For example. (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.all the holes in the model were aligned. drawn up by the Office. 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). (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. the skipper. having spent very little time on deck and having received little or no guidance (line management). The fisherman has lost an arm not only due to deck gear or inattentiveness but also to a series of mistakes by himself.

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

pollution. and P&I club payments. The family shares in this suffering as well as in the stress that comes from knowing that fishing is a dangerous profession. such awards may serve as a powerful incentive to provide a safe workplace.8 below) and. Conversely. interruptions in operations or loss of contracts among many others. the figures are quite staggering. Premiums are as much as twice (per tonne) of those of other commercial vessel operators and may vary between countries. clearing blocked waterways.(51) The cost of deaths. unemployment benefits. deductibles. According to the study "The economic impacts of accidents on the marine industry". 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. The fishermen bear pain and loss of income and sometimes even lose their lives.(48) Protection and indemnity insurance can be one of the highest fixed costs faced by fishing vessel owners. 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. when a vessel casualty occurs. accidents cost the .(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. as well as costs associated with medical evacuation or search and rescue operations (see box 2. co-payments. at that time. etc.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.(52) Box 2. Insurers could play a greater role in improving safety and health in the future.Protection and indemnity (P&I) clubs are a form of mutual. insurance premiums. For example. The employer. This may include paying compensation to crew members injured at work and providing medical care in a foreign port. 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. Such systems may also remove the threat of large jury awards following severe accidents. 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. may help to encourage fishermen to seek medical assistance and may lead to better data on the nature and extent of injuries and illnesses. New technology may allow the insurance industry to publish more information about incidents on board fishing vessels worldwide so that owners. operators and designers can learn of the problems that others have encountered and the solutions they have found. to the very limited safety regulations governing fishing vessels. perhaps due to the legal system and. costs associated with towing.(50) This may reduce the under-reporting of accidents or injuries.

and the cost of Coast Guard search and rescue (SAR) for fishing vessels. . time lost by other fishermen and crew members who stop work (e. For the fishing vessel owner.(54) Chapters 3 to 5 will look at actions as examples of national.g. preparing mandatory accident reports and attending hearings before state officials). This is more than three times the annual cost identified in that study for the tanker industry.(53) During 1994-95. 5.7 million. skippers and shore management (e. Source: J. etc. an unpublished paper prepared for the Office in view of this report. the expense of running the vessel which continues while the injured employee is a non-producer. expending over 38. to assist an injured fisherman. In an effort to develop the basic requirements for the collection. diseases and related statistics. Ben-Yami: Risks and dangers in small-scale fisheries: An overview. payment of forfeits and other similar causes). thousands of Asia and Pacific region fishermen -. 2.and their family members -. These include the working time lost by an injured fisherman. WorkSafe Western Australia determined that the average cost per lost time injury claim was Aus$6. Mar. M. In the last few decades alone.3 working days lost per injury. 1996). the ILO has published a code of practice entitled Recording and notification of occupational accidents and diseases (Geneva. 1999). with an average of 29. cost of continuing wages of the injured fisherman after his return (although he or she may not be fully productive). other indirect costs. investigating the cause of the accident.000 resource hours at a cost of approximately $45.). out of sympathy. Available data for 1992 and 1993 show the Coast Guard conducted over industry over $240 million annually. 1. damage to equipment or other property or the spoilage of material and fish. Spitzer: Fishing Vessel Casualty Task Force Report (United States Coast Guard. interference with fishing and processing activities (failure to fulfil orders on time.have been lost to storms and coastal flooding.197. time lost by officers. recording and notification of reliable data on occupational accidents. arranging for the fisherman's job to be taken over by another fisherman. out of curiosity.D. the cost may be experienced in a number of ways. loss of bonuses.000 SAR cases for fishing vessels. assisting the injured fisherman. Not included in these statistics are losses of productivity. This is described in Ch. loss of profit on the injured fisherman's productivity and on idle equipment. costs associated with employee welfare and benefit systems. and overhead costs per injured employee. consequences of excitement or weakened morale of the crew due to the accident. and four times greater than the passenger vessel industry. regional and international measures and activities which have aimed to improve safety and health in the fishing industry. 3.g.

1995). 8. 66: "Fishing". Norway. Iceland. cit. Poland (9x). Cuba. Other estimated comparative rates for 1997 (with x indicating the occupational fatality rate for the general population) include Republic of Korea (15x). J. Germany. study presented to the 6th Occupational Medicine Congress (Casablanca. Morocco. 1999). Poland. cit. in Alaska Sea-Grams (University of Alaska).. 1987. in Safety Science (Amsterdam. Embick: "Tendonitis and related afflictions in fishermen and processing workers". Danish Maritime Occupational Health Services and Danish Maritime Authorities. 1992. op. H. 18. France. cit. Poland). A. China. Lithuania (11x). Sweden. Elsevier Science B. Vol. 17. Rafnsson. in ILO: Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety. Spain. Teimmi: Les troubles musculo-squelettiques (TMS) chez les marins pêcheurs. 16. 10. V. V.: "Analysis of serious occupational accidents in Swedish fishery". 12.D. 21.4. Dr. Mar. 1/4. R. in ILO: Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety. see H. Slovenia. Jan. Brazil. 7. 27. 15. op. 9. Bárdarson: "Major sectors and processes". No. a paper prepared for the ILO. Italy (21x). Argentina. 19. Ch. 1997). 5. Romania (2x). Ben-Yami. Denmark. Spain (6x) and Canada (3. Spitzer: Fishing Vessel Casualty Task Force Report (United States Coast Guard. Rafnsson: "Health problems and disease patterns". United Kingdom. Canada. Minko: On safety and health in the Russian fishing industry (Kaliningrad State Technical University).5x). FAO. S. FAO. 43. op. Steiner and A.M. Ólafsdóttir: "Musculoskeletal disorders among fishermen and workers in the fish processing industry". in Bulletin of the Institute of Maritime and Tropical Medicine (Gdynia. . in ILO: Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety (Geneva. M. cit. 3. H. 13. Dr. V. A. Smith. 1998). 4th edition. Hansen.L. Netherlands. personal correspondence (1999).V. 14. A. personal communication (1999). 11. Tomaszunas: "Work-related lost-time accidents in deep-sea fishermen". Törner et al. For a brief description of fishing methods. Estonia (11x). Smith. No. 6. No. Vanuatu and Hong Kong. op. Consultant.

: Fishing vessel safety: Blueprint for a national program (Washington. cit. tidal stopnets. pearl shells and trochus.). Bamio. Poggie. diving and collecting sea cucumbers and molluscs. harvesting seaweed.A. in Marine Policy (Oxford. Ben-Yami. op. 19. Barrey: Payment method and safety. Sep.20. Vol. op. E. 29. Spain. cit. op. Ben-Yami. 47. estuaries. 24. 26. Jensen: "Mortality in Danish fishermen". in Bulletin of the Institute of Maritime and Tropical Medicine (Gdynia. diving for lobsters. Stoop: Safety and working conditions aboard fishing vessels. Bamio. personal correspondence (1999). Vol. Paper submitted to the Second International Symposium on Safety and Working Conditions aboard Fishing Vessels. Ben-Yami. 1989). FAO. 1/4. A. op. op. 31. as well as undertaking such illicit practices as fish poisoning and fishing with explosives. Kjerstad and J. 1992. National Research Council et al. 30. 1996. Poland). Proceedings of the World Symposium on Fishing Gear and Fishing Vessel Design (The Newfoundland and Labrador Institute of Fisheries and Marine Technology. 25. Elsevier Science Ltd. cit. H.P. 5. Pollnac and S. Dr. 1995. Sep. commercial spear gun fishing. Pröpper: An analysis and evaluation of occupational accidents and possible solutions for technical safety improvements on Dutch beam trawlers. Spain. No. 21. Sep. Spain. 1992. O. cit. tidal flats and other shallows. J. 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. Ben-Yami. J. 28. No. J. Smith.M. Paper submitted to the Second International Symposium on Safety and Working Conditions aboard Fishing Vessels. backwaters. 1991). 33. Such as beach seining. Paper submitted to the Second International Symposium on Safety and Working Conditions aboard Fishing Vessels. Paper submitted to . 27. fishing and collecting "seed" fry for aquaculture while wading in mangrove channels. Jones: "Perceptions of vessel safety regulations: A southern New England fishery. R. 23. 34. Ben-Yami. Grinde: "Working environment and health aspects in fishing vessels". extracting fish from shallow-water set nets. 22. DC.P. 1992. Bamio. J. cit. 32.

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

Appave. in Nixon et al. For further information. 49. Bamio.22. Fax: +41. cit. Cervera Hernández: Renting as a vector to explain safety levels.html This page was created by RP/CP. 54. Spain. 1983) as reported by D. J. Sep.. please contact the Sectoral Activities Department (SECTOR) at Tel: +41. 52. op. op. op. 83/97 at http://sage. It was approved by BW/OdVR. Paper submitted to the Second International Symposium on Safety and Working Conditions aboard Fishing Vessels. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Safety and Working Conditions aboard Fishing Vessels. 13 February 2002. Updated by AN/BR. Canada. It was last updated .7050 or email: sector@ilo. in "The role of the ILO in the improvement of safety and working conditions aboard fishing vessels". 1989. WorkSafe Western Australia.799. a Worker's Education Manual (Geneva. 53. cit. WorkSafe Statistics. Bulletin No. Coton. 1992. Rimouski. safetyline/sowe/ws_stats/ws_8397. Gristwood: "Views from the UK insurance market". Aug.wt. Based on ILO: Accident Prevention. SECTOR: [ Top | SECTOR Home | About Sector | Sectors | Meetings | Publications | Contact us ] © 1996-2011 International Labour Organization (ILO) | Copyright and Permissions | Privacy policy | Disclaimer . ibid.799.7501.22. cit. 50.

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