Fishing is the world’s most hazardous occupation – but there is no global database to capture accidents or fatalities. The FISHER Project, led by the IMarEST partner the FISH Safety Foundation, aims to address that and improve safety for those who supply much of the world’s food.
Food security is one of the world’s main challenges. And according to the latest edition of FAO’s The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture report, fishing, if sustainably managed, has a crucial role to play in providing food for a global population expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050.
The FAO further estimates that fisheries and aquaculture support the livelihoods of 10-12% of the world’s population, with more than 40 million people directly engaged in capture fisheries, working off more than 4.5 million fishing vessels of all sizes and capabilities.
The positive contribution of fishing to the world economy, and the vital need to secure a safe and sustainable food chain, is known and understood, but what is less well known is the true human cost of fishing.
World’s most hazardous occupation
Fishing is universally acknowledged as the world’s most hazardous occupation. But we do not know just how dangerous it really is.
To get a better picture of the situation, there has been a push to get fisheries’ accident and fatality reporting on to the agenda of the international fishing community for decades.
Accident data is critically important. Reliable information will assist countries in identifying the costs associated with the prevention of fishing accidents and whether resources committed to maritime safety are used effectively and efficiently.
Reliable data can identify causes of accidents and raise awareness of the need to build more programmes around safety at sea in the fishing sector. It can also inform rule making processes, and support implementation and safety enforcement actions.
However, no single global database to record fishing accident information exists and a considerable number of countries still lack an effective reporting, investigation, and analysis system.
In response, the FISHER (an acronym for the Fishing Industry Safety & Health Event Reporting) Project has been launched by New Zealand-based non-profit organisation, the FISH Safety Foundation (FSF), which is a partner of the IMarEST.
FISHER is an evidence-based development programme aimed at capturing, recording, and analysing fishing vessel accidents, fatalities and injuries and related safety-event information. The aim is to establish an accident data management system for the global fishing industry.
Ultimately this information will help to develop and promote innovative health and safety interventions, in large industrial and small-scale fishing sectors.
Intergovernmental agency support
A Letter of Intent has been signed between the FSF, the International Maritime Organization, Lloyd’s Register Foundation, and the Pew Charitable Trusts to develop the project further. And, as announced recently at the 34th session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI), the project has already attracted broad intergovernmental agency support, especially from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the FAO.
To ensure the objectives of the project are met, we need the help of the fishing sector – from administrations and associations to fishers and communities. The FISH Safety Foundation is partnered with the IMarEST, and we would value the input and support of members in this important project.
For more information, please contact Eric Holliday, FISH Safety Foundation at .
Eric Holliday FIMarEST, AFNI is CEO of the Fish Safety Foundation and chair of the Global Fisheries Improvement SIG.