December 5, 2019

CONTACT: Scott Heiberger


Safety on the seas:

Newly published research focuses on safety of commercial fishermen, fish farmers

As global production of seafood continues to rise, so does concern for the health and safety of workers in commercial fishing and the related industries of aquaculture and seafood processing. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates there are nearly 60 million fishermen and fish farmers worldwide, and that 32,000 lose their lives each year while harvesting seafood.

Recognizing these trends, the peer-reviewed Journal of Agromedicine departed from its usual coverage of agricultural safety and health by dedicating the current issue to safety in seafood production. The lead editorial is viewable at no cost.

The special issue highlights sessions and topics discussed during the most recent International Fishing Industry Safety and Health (IFISH) Conference, the only international gathering of fishing, aquaculture, and seafood processing safety experts and researchers. More than 175 occupational safety and health researchers, safety professionals, industry members, and students from 24 countries gathered in June 2018 in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, for IFISH 5. Papers cover original research, literature reviews, and session summaries.

“Having the opportunity to put together this special issue has been extremely rewarding,” said Senior Guest Editor Jennifer Lincoln, Ph.D., Injury Epidemiologist, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). “It has allowed us to build on what we shared at the conference, and it provides us a forum to continue to interact.”

Few occupations are as old, or as hazardous, as commercial fishing.

“A reoccurring theme of IFISH was that fishermen want to be safe, and they will adopt practical and relevant solutions,” Lincoln said. “Many times, it takes someone being willing to act as a connector to get groups talking to identify these practical solutions.”

NIOSH stepped into the facilitator role by creating the IFISH Conference in 2000, encouraging dialogue among researchers, industry, and worker organizations aimed at decreasing injury and illness in the seafood industry.

“My hope for IFISH 6 in 2021 is to generate more discussion around practical and effective interventions and policies to reduce occupational safety and health risk,” Lincoln said. “In addition, I hope IFISH 6 can bring more focus on underserved populations including small-scale fisheries in South America, Asia, and Africa, as well as promising interventions that bring workers home safe to their families.”

Seafood accounts for 15 percent of the world population’s protein intake. China, Indonesia, India, the United States, and the Russian Federation are the largest seafood producers by volume, according to the latest data. The top aquaculture producers were China, India, Indonesia, Viet Nam, and Bangladesh.

The Journal of Agromedicine is the world’s top source of peer-reviewed agricultural safety and health information. It is edited by the National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield Clinic Research Institute, and published by Taylor and Francis Group. The journal’s website provides searchable, archived abstracts from this and past issues.


Journal of Agromedicine Cover (.png)

Journal of Agromedicine Cover (.jpg)

Journal of Agromedicine Cover (.pdf)