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Fishermen Wellness: Fishing Forward Podcast

Podcast for fishermen talks strategies to maximize health and productivity at sea and dockside


By Maryellen Driscoll

Northeast Center for Occupational Health and Safety in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing


What do commercial fishermen share in common with professional athletes like LA Lakers’ LeBron James and tennis ace Naomi Osaka? Find out in the first episode of the Fishing Forward Podcast, a new podcast for fishermen with a focus on health, safety, and “staying shipshape” in the commercial fishing industry.


The Fishing Forward Podcast is available on most podcast streaming platforms as well as at www.coastalroutes.org/fishingforwardpod. Transcripts are also available on the web page. New episodes will be released every two weeks through 2022.


“Fishing is physically and mentally intense work that can have a high human cost, so talking about resilience and solutions for limiting risk is critical in this industry,” said co-host Hannah Harrison, who grew up in the commercial fishing industry and has fished herself. “We hear a lot about the importance of wearing life jackets, but less about the impacts of sleep deprivation, caffeine consumption or the impacts of long periods at sea on fishermen's relationships back home.”


The podcast features scientific experts and fishermen to explore those topics and gives listeners some good ideas to improve safety in their own lives, added Harrison.


Familiar with fisheries worldwide, Harrison and co-host Phil Loring seamlessly thread together conversations with multiple guests in each episode. Harrison is a post-doctoral scholar and human ecologist studying fisheries at the University of Guelph and a science director for the Coastal Routes project. Loring is an Associate Professor of Geography and holds the Arrell Chair in Food, Policy, and Society at the University of Guelph.


Upcoming episodes will discuss topics such as how to get a good meal when juggling work and limited time to sleep, and if stretches of little -to-no sleep while on the job can actually increase the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. No matter the challenge, each episode includes strategies for workarounds and solutions. The idea of the podcast started during conversations with fishermen, who were being interviewed for a sleep-related project run by the Northeast Center for Occupational Health and Safety in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing.


“We’d been hearing from fishermen that they have concerns about the impact of work on their health,” said Rebecca Weil, coordinator of the Northeast Center’s commercial fishing sleep project. “It seemed like creating a podcast would be a way to explore their questions and their solutions with each other in a way that fishermen from all coasts can access and listen to on their own schedules.”


Known among New England fishermen for its Lifejackets for Lobstermen program, the Northeast Center partnered with the Coastal Routes Radio team at the University of Guelph to create the Fishing Forward Podcast. Coastal Routes has a track record of producing high-quality podcasts for fishing communities.


A large suite of partners from across the country are also actively involved in the podcast’s project, including:


  • Alaska Marine Safety Education Association

  • Fishing Partnership Support Services

  • Local Catch Network

  • Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association

  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

  • National Occupational Research Agenda Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing Council

  • Oregon State University

  • Pacific Northwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center

  • Southwest Ag Center

For additional information or to share feedback or ideas, reach out to info@necenter.org or call 800- 343-7527.

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