The PFD Work Group grew from the IFISH 5 session entitled “Changing Commercial Fishing Personal Flotation Use Behavior: What can we learn from efforts to address the most important safety technology adoption challenge of our time?” Here you can find meeting recordings and other materials related to the group. Anyone interested in learning more about this international group of commercial fishing safety researchers should contact

Virtual meetings take place quarterly.

PFD Work Group Meetings

November 2023

Presentation entitled “Investigating the Use of Personal Flotation Devices and Personal Locator Beacons by Fishers and Recreational Boaters in Newfoundland and Labrador” from Kerri-Ann Ennis, MS, PhD Candidate, Robert Brown, PhD, and Kim Cullen, PhD.

A personal flotation device (PFD) is the most critically important piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) for fishers and recreational boaters who are at risk of falling overboard. However, one of the most versatile and reliable methods available for alerting rescuers in the event of a man-overboard event is a personal locator beacon (PLB). This presentation will discuss the work the research team is carrying out on the use of PFDs and PLBs in NL’s fishing and recreational boating sectors.

You can view the agenda here, and watch the meeting recording.

September 2023

Updates from Jennifer Lincoln and Julie Sorensen regarding an International PFD Work Group submission to IFISH6 in Rome, IT in January 2024.

You can view the meeting agenda here; the meeting recording was made available to attendees, but as it was strictly a planning session for an upcoming conference, the recording is not being shared on the website.

June 2023

Drs. Jeffery Levin and Shannon Guillot-Wright and Amanda Wickman presented on Improving Crew Overboard (COB) for Commercial Fishing Vessels in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as an update for the IFISH 6 Conference taking place in January 2024 in Rome, Italy. You can view the agenda here, and watch the meeting recording.

March 2023

Updates from Jennifer Lincoln, Associate Director of NIOSH; Manoverboard (MOB) Awareness Events with Simon Potten, Head of Safety, Training and Services at the Sea Fish Industry Authority (Seafish), and Frankie Horne, Fishing Safety Manager at the Royal National Lifeboats Institution (RNLI). You can view the meeting agenda here and the meeting.

December 2022

Darren Guard with Guard Safety in New Zealand presented on PFDs in the New Zealand Context including PFD use, findings from a recent survey “Recreational Boating Fatal Accidents: 2015-2020/2021” as well as a recent 5-person drowning event with the involvement of auto inflate PFD’s onboard. In 2015 Darren started his own business – Guard Safety. As Managing Director, he leads the company to promote and encourage health, safety, and wellbeing in the wider maritime industry and are leaders in the MarineSAFE project, providing free online health, safety and wellbeing resources to the fishing sector, and are also managing and delivering the Seafood Sector Support Network Trust, FirstMate. You can view the meeting agenda here and the recording.

September 2022

Dr. Charles Freeman shared findings from his team’s research with commercial shrimpers in the Gulf of Mexico in which they conducted one-on-one user needs assessments and PFD prototype development. Through a human-centered design approach, his team looked at the major issues (comfort, movement, respiration, and cultural) reported by the shrimpers for the “WHY” behind the extremely low-rate of PFD usage while on deck and on the water.

You can view the agenda here and the meeting recording.

June 2022

Health communication specialist Ted Teske presented on the Fishing Safety Success Story video series he developed for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). These short videos focus on a single incident in the commercial fishing industry where injury was avoided through adoption or application of a NIOSH-recommended safety practice. To view the “Fishing Safety Success Story” video series, go to the CDC YouTube page.

View the meeting agenda here and the meeting recording.

March 2022

Allen Stevens, senior engineer for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), presented on a live testing program of inflatable PFDs. Stevens sits on the British Standards Committee for Lifejackets and has been involved in lifejacket and safety projects with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) of the United Kingdom (UK). More recently, Stevens has been involved in a mass testing project looking at the correct packing and inflation of lifejackets in the UK and Ireland. View the meeting agenda here. Held March 3, 2022, the meeting was not recorded.

December 2021

Fish Safe NS retrofitted a Ford F150 into a Mobile Training Unit (MTU) to provide wharf-side safety demonstrations, safety equipment and other safety resources to Nova Scotia fishermen. Matthew Duffy, executive director of this membership-funded, non-profit safety association based in Halifax, NS, presents on how the mobile unit has been able to help the Nova Scotia fishermen with PFD-related questions, maintenance, education and now distribution. You an view the agenda and view a recording of the meeting. You an view the agenda and view a recording of the meeting.

View the agenda here and the recording of the meeting.

September 2021

Efforts to promote the wearing of PFDs among fishermen within the largest wild sockeye salmon fishery in the world was the focus of a panel-led discussion. Comprised by representatives from Bristol Bay Reserve–a member-owned marine insurance pool–and fishery participants, the panel described the fishery, the hazards within the fishery and discuss the role of vessel insurance as a way to promote PFD use across a wide array of vessel operators and crew. You can view the agenda and watch the recording of the meeting.

March 2021

On March 3, 2021, the PFD Work Group met to discuss recent research on personal locator devices. You can view the agenda and watch the recording of the meeting.

December 2020

The group met on December 2, 2020 and discussed RNLI’s Fishermen’s Water Experience event. Here is a link to the presentation slides.