Thursday, January 26, 2012

Interventions in the Interest of Safety-- PART 2

Training, research, and outreach in Maine’s commercial fishing industry.

Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council magazine by Ms. Ann S.N. Backus, M.S., occupational safety instructor, Harvard School of Public Health.

Mandated Training Part 2
In a parallel effort to establish a more safety-savvy cadre of dive tenders for the hand-harvest industry (urchins, scallops, lobster), the DMR collaborated with the Maine Commercial Fishing Safety Council in 2009 to create a dive tender rule and a DMR online diving safety course for tenders.

Under the rule, those seeking a dive tender license must pass a test and present current first aid and CPR certifications. As of mid-June 2010, forty people had been issued dive tender licenses through this process.

In the most recent three years, there was a 19 percent incidence rate of diver deaths recorded in the USCG First District. With dive tenders now presumably alert to unsafe diving situations and able to recognize divers in distress, we hope to see a reduction in Maine’s contribution to this rate.

Research and Outreach
The Harvard Education and Resource Center (ERC) is currently one of the hubs for research and outreach activities that engage Maine’s fishing industry. In 1999 the Harvard ERC launched a lobsterman entanglement study along the Maine coast in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control/National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health Alaska Field Station in Anchorage, Alaska.

Additionally, Mary Davis, Ph.D., of the Tufts University Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, and Ann Backus, M.S., of Harvard collaborated on a study titled “Safety and Compliance in the Maine Commercial Fishing Industry” that was funded by NOAA and the Maine Sea Grant. This study investigated the current level of safety preparedness in the industry from the equipment and training perspectives.

Future Direction
Fishing safety is—and has to be—a joint effort of government, industry, and private players. I would like to acknowledge those mentioned here and all others who are participating in building an infrastructure that will drive and support a culture of safety in Maine.

Full article is available at

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