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MEDIA RELEASE: Safe Work Practices Prepare Fish Harvesters for Operating in COVID‑19 Pandemic

April 20, 2020

April 20, 2020

ST. JOHN’S, NL – Fish harvesting is one of the most dangerous occupations in Newfoundland and Labrador, made even more challenging by the COVID-19 global pandemic. In response, fish harvesters and leading health and safety experts have developed safe work practices to guide harvesters on how to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19.  Consequently, the best way to prevent and slow down the transmission of the COVID-19 virus is to be fully informed about the disease, how it spreads, and possible control measures that will help to contain and prevent the spread,” explains Brenda Greenslade, Newfoundland and Labrador Fish Harvesting Safety Association (NL-FHSA) Executive Director.

The NL-FHSA has been working to gain an understanding of COVID-19 and its potential impact on the fish harvesting industry in this province. The work has been carried out in partnership with FFAW-Unifor and the Professional Fish Harvester Certification Board (PFHCB), and in collaboration with other representatives of the NL-FHSA Board of Directors and Advisory Committee. The NL‑FHSA also reached out to fish harvesting safety associations across the country for input. Provincial Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, provided valuable feedback on the document.

“This is an unprecedented time for everyone in the fishing industry and it has been challenging to develop safe work practices that can be applied to all fishing vessels given the type of vessel, vessel size and crew size. We’ve used the most up-to-date public health information available, but this is a living document and will evolve as more information on COVID-19 becomes available,” says NL-FHSA Board Chair, David Decker.

“Whether a fishery opens in two weeks or next year, these safe work practices needed to be developed because we know COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon. Fish harvesters and plant workers will not return to work until it is deemed safe to do so,” says Decker.

“We know that not all vessels will feel it feasible to implement every best practice within the Safe Work Practices document. The intention is that harvesters will apply what they can from this document to ensure the safest work environment possible for themselves and their fellow crew members,” says Greenslade.

The full document is available at


For media inquiries, please contact Courtney Glode, FFAW-Unifor Communications at 709-743-4445 or