Project number: 2012-402
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $98,308.00
Organisation: Deakin University Geelong Waterfront Campus
Project start/end date: 19 Jun 2012 - 4 May 2014


Research has found that fishers are subject to a multitude of stressors, including those relating to government policies and co-management challenges, a fluctuating market place, crew cohesion and on-shore social relationships, and the pressures of working in a dangerous workplace. Compounding the well-known physical dangers associated with the fishing industry, these factors all place pressure on fisher mental wellbeing, which in turn contributes to issues such as clinically diagnosed anxiety disorders, poor eating habits and substance abuse, eg, evidence from around the world suggests that the particular stresses of fishing contribute to higher than average rates of smoking among fishers.
Findings from the RIRDC-funded project Staying Healthy: Behaviours and services used by farmers and fishers indicate that while participants from certain farming industry areas have benefited from industry involvement in health and wellbeing, including in relation to mental health, fishers are less likely to report that industry associations have helped them access health and wellbeing information or programs. Some farmers described significant lifestyle changes after participating in programs that were promoted, sponsored or facilitated by trusted industry organisations. As well, recent research (Brooks, 2011, Health and Safety in the Australian Fishing Industry, RIRDC, Canberra) has found a lack of awareness of occupational health and safety among fishers. The Research Audit of Social Sciences Fisheries Research (Clarke, 2009) noted research findings that social wellbeing is related to financial wellbeing, and that social networking is negatively affected by working hours, suggesting a place for an industry specific approach to social connection and mental health. There appears to be a broking role for industry groups and organisations in enhancing the health of the fishing workforce. This project will identify strategies for industry and fishing community organisations to take on this role in effective, but cost and resource efficient, ways.


1. to explore how industry supports fisher physical health and mental wellbeing
2. to develop and trial a set of case studies and best practice guidelines for industry organisations in enhancing fisher health and wellbeing in collaboration with industry, fishing communities and health stakeholders
3. to evaluate the case studies and best practice guidelines

Related research


Australian Fisheries and Aquaculture Statistics 2022

1. To maintain and improve the data base of production, gross value of production and trade statistics for the Australian fishing industry, including aquaculture.
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) ABARES