Maintaining the health, safety and wellbeing of the people in the commercial fishing industry is a top priority here in Aotearoa and has been for some time.  

We’re lucky in New Zealand to have the Health and Safety Forum – dedicated to looking at the issues facing our sector, MarineSAFE – providing video-based training to help crews stay healthy and safe as they work, and FirstMate – all about providing people with the guidance, direction and support they need to navigate whatever's ahead.  

Recently, Darren Guard, Managing Director of Nelson-based Guard Safety and member of the NZ Fishing Health and Safety Forum, attended the International Fishing Industry Safety & Health Conference (IFISH6) in Rome.  

Over 50 countries attended the conference – a mix of both developed and developing countries. The New Zealand contingent included Darren, Guard Safety Business Manager Shalaine Jackson (pictured with Darren below), and Fatima Junaid – Massey University.  

“We presented on Health, Safety and Wellbeing down under – including the Massey psychosocial research on the key stressors for our seafood people in NZ. The findings highlighted that regulation in NZ fisheries was the key stressor,” says Darren. “We were incredibly well received. In a sea of academia and a sea of policy, people enjoyed hearing from someone in the industry, who really knows the industry.” 

Darren says New Zealand continues to be a world leader in this space and since (the conference) they’ve been sharing some of the resources we have here with other nations – continuing the international collaboration.  

According to Darren, the wellbeing of seafarers, was the number one theme to come out of the conference.

“The fact that increasing regulation and societal pressures are really impacting not only the profitably of our industry, but the overall wellbeing of our seafood workers globally is becoming a real focus.”  

“Here at home, we can’t just say it’s the fault of local lawmakers, because a lot of the regulation that they are implementing is driven by international conventions and standards.”  

Darren stresses the need to now come together to work with international organisations to make sure future regulation is relevant.  

“There are already a couple of international organisations or groups forming – one already has about 18 country members and would like NZ to join it. That’s something I’ll be promoting.” 

Looking at how we can lessen the burden of regulation on our fishers, while ensuring what we do is sustainable and has as little impact on our oceans as possible, is something Seafood NZ is working hard on. We appreciate all 16,500 of you who work in this awesome industry, and along with Darren Guard, we will continue to support your health, safety and wellbeing wherever we can.  

Darren shares more about the IFISH6 conference in the next issue of the Seafood NZ magazine, out in March.