Session 2C – Regional Approaches to Aquaculture and Seafood Processing

Monday, June 11, 10:45am–12:15pm, Arts and Administration Building, Room A1045

2C.1  Aquaculture occupational safety and health in CanadaBarbara Neis, Memorial University; Christine Knott, Memorial University; J. Finnis, Memorial University; Zhiwei Gao, Memorial University; Lorenzo Moro, Memorial University; J. Santander, Memorial University; F. Kahn, Memorial University (Presentation slides).

Occupational health and safety (OHS) issues within aquaculture encompass potential hazards within aquaculture from hatchery work through grow-out, processing and transport of fish and shellfish, as well as hazards associated with spatial and other overlaps between commercial fisheries and aquaculture. Finfish and shellfish aquaculture typically takes place in relatively remote coastal regions where OHS expertise is very limited, as is regulatory oversight. 
Neglect of safety and health can erode fishing and aquaculture enterprise profitability through the costs of compensation, insurance and fines. Injury and illness can also contribute to labour turnover and shortages that, in turn, can affect the social license of operations within rural and remote communities where, as has been shown in the mining sector, local job opportunities are a key factor in local support. In extreme cases, failure to identify and eliminate or mitigate health and safety hazards can lead to increased risk of injury and occupational diseases that can result in plant closure. Currently available data on injury, illness and fatality rates associated with aquaculture production in Canada are limited; where they exist these indicate the industry is one of the most dangerous. This presentation will provide an overview of a 5-year program of research on aquaculture OHS in Atlantic Canada recently funded by the Ocean Frontier Institute as part of a larger program of research on social license in marine aquaculture. It will also present preliminary findings from the first phase of that research program including background data on the distribution and types of aquaculture operations in Atlantic Canada and a profile of hazards, injuries, illnesses and fatalities and their proximate causes in the sector in Atlantic Canada derived from a literature review contextualized for the Atlantic Canada aquaculture sector and from compensation and inspection report data and key informant interviews conducted in 2017-2018.


2C.2  Occupational safety in the Nigerian aquaculture industryAyodeji Adeyinka Adeoye, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria; Yemi Akegbejo-Samsons, Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria (Presentation Slides).

Aquaculture is widely recognised and promoted as a source of income, employment and food supply in developing nations including Nigeria. A mapping study of operators in Lagos and Ogun States aquaculture industry was conducted. A total of 5,103 operators (hatchers and farmers) were enumerated and characterised. The industry is dominated by the production of African catfish, and mainly operated by men (not less than 81.6%). The majority of the operators in Nigeria’s aquaculture industry are either unaware of occupational safety or just indifferent about its importance. The sites of operations are often located in residential areas thereby constituting a level of risk to neighbours. Boreholes and rivers/ streams are the main sources of water for operations and farms are often prone to flooding on an annual basis. Cheap labour with poor welfare packages are often utilised for aquaculture operations and subsequently there is very low staff retention in the aquaculture industry. The majority of operators in the industry (more than 60%) operate based on guesswork and personal experiences rather than scientific advice (from empirical studies) from government agencies. The type of chemicals used and dosages are based on personal experiences (62.2%) irrespective of adverse effects of such chemicals on public health and the environment. None of the farmers in this study utilised protective and safety gears (such as waders when harvesting in ponds, safety boots, helmet, hand gloves, nose cover, etc.) in their operations. Some of the reasons for the poor awareness or indifferent attitude to occupational safety in the industry are mainly attributed to extra cost and economic impacts of occupational safety and health. It is hereby recommended that the government embark on an awareness programme on the importance of occupational safety in Nigeria aquaculture industry in addition to providing an enabling environment to implement health and safety measures in the industry.


2C.3  Safety and health programs in Alaska’s seafood processing industry: Interviews with corporate and upper management stakeholders Laura Syron, Oregon State University; Laurel Kincl, Oregon State University; Viktor Bovbjerg, Oregon State University (Presentation Slides).

Background: Although the seafood processing industry is vital to Alaska’s economy, limited research has addressed workers’ safety and health. Safety and health program management is a decisive factor in preventing worker injuries and illnesses. This study investigated safety and health program characteristics through stakeholder interviews.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 14 corporate and upper-level directors/managers who oversaw safety and health programs for Alaskan seafood processing worksites. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed, with responses validated by participants. Quantitative content analysis was utilized to describe participant, worksite, and workforce characteristics. Qualitative techniques, including inductive coding, were utilized to explore participants’ experiences and views regarding: management and workers’ roles in the program; systems for identifying, analyzing, and controlling hazards; safety training; as well as program challenges and successes.

Results: The 14 participants reported directing/managing programs for 68% of the 25,000 workers in this Alaskan industry. Participants represented 13 companies that operated 32 onshore plants and 30 vessels, employing 17,000 workers at peak season. Participants noted varying degrees of program buy-in and engagement from management and workers, ranging from basic compliance with standards to full partnerships for carrying out best practices. While some participants reported that fostering a proactive safety culture and “prevention mindset” were among their greatest successes, others discussed the challenges of overcoming an “old guard mentality” that did not prioritize safety. Participants frequently reported language barriers, ergonomic hazards, and long work hours as areas of concern.

Conclusions: Based on participants’ responses, we identified workplace factors that could be modified to improve safety and health: worksite manager training; worker training; adoption of ergonomics; work hours; and knowledge sharing within the industry. Future research could explore workers’ experiences and needs. Occupational safety and health practitioners and researchers could support the development and evaluation of ergonomic solutions, fatigue prevention, and training for limited-English-speaking-workers.


2C.4  Institutional strengthening and sustainability: Outcomes of OSH training and awareness initiatives by UNIDO and ILO across the shrimp processing sector in BangladeshMohammad Nuruzzaman, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh; Niaz Ahmed Khan, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh; Nusrat Zaman Nishat, Dhaka Medical College & Hospital, Bangladesh (Presentation Slides).

Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) services for industrial workers are still in the developmental stage in Bangladesh. The Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishment (DIFE) is the legal enforcement agency according to country’s Factory Act of 1965 and Factory Rules of 1979. The shrimp and seafood processing sector contributes significantly to the economy through earning valuable foreign exchange, employment generation, food and income security for millions of fishers and fish workers across the coastal zone.

In response to the emerging OSH needs from international buyers and consumers, the shrimp and seafood processing sector undertook collaborative programs with United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and International Labor Organization (ILO) to facilitate better social compliance including OSH matters for the first time in Bangladesh. Recent evaluation of training, workers’ education, and awareness programs run by UNIDO and ILO revealed changed attitudes among the DIFE officials offering better workers training and inspection support emphasizing the safety and health issues for the export oriented shrimp processing sector. Ethnographic study under a research program from the Department of Development Studies, University of Dhaka across southwestern coastal districts suggests that shrimp and seafood processing workers are better aware about industrial accidents, proper use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), occupational hygiene, occupational diseases, protection need of women and young workers from dangerous occupation including condition of works, working hours, welfare facilities, holidays and leaves.

In spite of institutional strengthening, capacity building, post upgradation and administrative reorganization of DIFE influenced by this collaboration, the factory owners and managers are still hesitant about the cost of better compliance, apprehensive of reduced profit from business in a highly competitive seafood market. The study recommends extensive R&D to reap higher production of raw shrimp, minimize yield-gap, control shrimp disease and environment, improve shrimp supply chain, develop value added items and expand local & international market towards sustainability of the shrimp sector including better OSH services.


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