A nationwide Deakin University survey* of health and wellbeing in Australia’s fishing industry found fishers endure levels of psychological distress almost double that of the general population. The 2017 study found the top three stressors for commercial fishers are:

Government red tape   •   Uncertainty about future access regulations   •    Changes to access regulations

Thirty nine per cent of survey respondents reported they had been dissuaded from addressing their physical and mental health problems because they felt their GP didn’t understand the pressures of the fishing industry.

As part of the Stay Afloat Australia commercial fishing industry mental health pilot program we are looking to bridge the knowledge gap between primary healthcare workers and their understanding of the Australian seafood industry, its operations and its stressors.

Despite Australia’s commercial fishing industry contributing more than $3 billion to the economy each year and putting more than one billion Australian seafood meals on tables around the world, fishers feel “culturally undervalued” and misunderstood by the general public, who don’t venerate fishers like they do farmers.

While there have been some fantastic awareness campaigns and health outcome successes in relation to mental health among rural and regional Australians, and particularly Aussie farmers, the men and women who catch our seafood have gone under the radar.

Focus community fact sheets:

Without healthy, happy and resilient professional fishers, we can’t have a healthy and economically viable industry, and we can’t access Australia’s incredible seafood resources.

It is vital our primary healthcare networks not only understand the concerns of commercial fishers, but also have access to resources that help support fishers, fishing families and fishing communities when times are tough.

*Research led by Dr Tanya King, Maritime Anthropologist, Deakin University.