By developing an evidence-based health and safety training program for Australian fishing communities, this project meets the needs of the commercial wild-catch and aquaculture industry identified in FRDC’s RD&E Program 3, ‘Communities’ and particularly theme 10, which promotes resilient and supportive communities who are able to adapt to the social impacts of change in industry business environments.
The project will address a national need, identified by VicFRAB, to better understand the social and economic contribution of commercial fisheries, by identifying and addressing potential losses incurred through the poor health and wellbeing of the industry’s human capital.
Fishers tend to work in rural and remote communities, which means they have higher rates of mortality, disease and health risk factors than urban dwellers, further impacted by reduced access to primary health care services. Fishers are at particular risk of certain kinds of illnesses (eg. skin and diet-related), as well as injury (fatality rates are more than double those in the agricultural sector). Mental health concerns are higher than average in the fishing industry, exacerbated by uncertainties within the industry including often high debt and insecurity of tenure and licencing. While both women and men are at risk, 86.9% of fishers are male, a factor placing them at greater risk of suicide.
Fisher ‘attitudes’ also impact health, such as the culture of self-reliance, particularly among males. This may make fishers resilient, but also makes them less likely to adopt preventative health practices or to use health services, and they will usually wait longer before seeking medical assistance, particularly for issues of chronic poor mental health.
The Sustainable Fishing Families project will benefit fishing families’ health, safety and resilience by promoting a self-awareness of the value of the industry’s human capital, and building their health capacity.