Workplace Health and Safety in Fisheries and Aquaculture


Workplace fatalities in fishing and aquaculture make it one of the most dangerous occupations in Australia, underpinned by a poor safety culture. While other agri-sectors have implemented interventions to improve the physical and mental health of their industry members – the seafood industry is lagging. This is in part due to industry regarding safety as a regulatory cost and not an investment. For example, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority has found implementation of the new national safety legislation difficult due to debates on cost recovery.

The FRDC are working with industry, community, regulatory and research partners to achieve positive cultural change in the safety of the Australian seafood industry. The FRDC’s National RD&E Seafood Industry Safety Initiative, established in 2018, builds on and broadens previous FRDC investment in this area, committing research funding around key areas. The Initiative was developed as a cross stakeholder partnership to address gaps and/or inefficiencies in the workplace health and safety space of the Australian seafood industry. The Strategic Plan and Terms of Reference developed by members of the initiative to guide its activities can be found below. The FRDC is also a participant, with eight other RDCs, in the Rural Safety and Health Alliance (RSHA). The RSHA aims to improve Australia’s primary production safety record by investing in practical RD&E solutions informed by industry input on work, health and safety risks.


Research Management


  • Rural Safety and Health Alliance (RSHA). Nine RDC’s, including the FRDC are participants in the RSHA which is aimed at improving safety in Australia’s primary production sectors.


Marine Safety

Workplace fatalities in fishing and aquaculture make it one of the most dangerous sectors for workers in Australia. The FRDC’s Seafood Industry Safety & Welfare National Strategy, established in 2018, builds on and broadens previous FRDC investment in this area, committing research funding around the following four key areas:

  1. Education: the development of electronic learning tools to facilitate the uptake of knowledge required for an improved culture of safety awareness, including general workplace safety requirements under workplace health and safety legislation and Australian Maritime Safety Authority legislation.
  2. Adoption of a new ‘safety focused’ culture within the industry: for example, through the promotion of ‘marine safety champions’ or the development of capabilities to ensure that safety regulations are adopted.
  3. Behaviour, understanding and influencing: for example, to understand the inhibitors and motivators for behaviour change in relation to industry safety.
  4. Coordination and communication: to ensure all FRDC marine safety projects are linked and collaborate effectively, and will establish a process for collecting and reporting statistics on marine safety and welfare.


Key Resources

Key Publications


Current Research

  • 2016-400 “Sustainable Fishing Families: Developing industry human capital through health, wellbeing, safety and resilience”
  • 2017-046 “What’s stopping you from protecting yourself and your mates? Identifying barriers to the adoption of safe work practises in the small-scale wild catch commercial fishing industry”
  • 2017-134 “Progressing the National Fisheries Digital Data Framework - Industry consultation”
  • 2017-194SeSAFE: Delivering Industry Safety through Electronic Learning”
  • 2017-224 “Southern Rock Lobster Clean Green program, Revision, Digitisation & Extension”
  • 2017-231 “To develop a national marine safety extension resource toolkit and to trial with all fisheries jurisdictions”
  • 2018-106 “Identifying electronic platforms to increase safety at sea in the Australian commercial fishing fleet”


Past Research

  • 2002-231 “Occupational health and safety national extension strategy”
  • 2003-236 “Accident statistic tool”
  • 2003-415 “Development of an OH&S induction training video for the post harvest sector of the seafood industry”
  • 2005-228 “A pilot project conducted in the western rock lobster industry, to create a software audit tool for assessing occupational health and safety compliance with industry best practice on board a commercial fishing vessel”
  • 2012-765 “Seafood CRC: Southern Rock Lobster clean Green Business Framework”
  • 2012-409 “Primary industries health and safety collaborative partnership 2012-2015”
  • 2015-401 “Assisting commercial and recreational organisations adapt to national maritime safety standards”
  • 2012-765 “Seafood CRC: Southern Rock Lobster clean Green Business Framework”