The Fisheries Safety Association of Nova Scotia has a new name and a new mobile training unit that has been put to good use this fall as commercial lobster fisheries in southwestern Nova Scotia gear up for the season.
The conversation to change the association’s name to Fish Safe N.S. started over a year ago, said Matthew Duffy, executive director.
Besides the name being quite lengthy, the Safety Association “more often than not” was being confused as being a government organization, when in fact it’s a non-profit organization, said Duffy.
“We’re looking at the rebrand as a method of reducing confusion, to make it (the name) a little bit more easy to remember and hopefully get away from folks confusing us with the government because we’re industry funded. We work for industry and our membership.”
Fish Safe N.S. has also rebranded its programming that their activities fall under including wharf-side training and visits to Hooked on Safety.
“There’s no real change in what we’re doing,” said Duffy. “The biggest change is we’ve invested in a mobile training unit. Essentially, it’s going to be a wharf-side resource centre, so it has everything we’ve always brought to the wharf, a little bit more amplified. We have room for more resources, we can bring some more tools with us, different types of PFDs, more training tools.”
When visiting the wharves this fall, Duffy said Fish Safe N.S. is going to be promoting “our navigational safety awareness program. Transport Canada through the office of boating safety, the boating safety contribution program awarded us a grant of $154,820 to create and distribute and educate on navigation resources for the fishing industry, aquaculture, really anyone on the water in a commercial fishing sense.”
Another big project that will be rolling out, said Duffy, is the development of mental health and wellness resources for industry.
“We’re investing a chunk of change to work with industry to develop resources for mental health and wellness. It’s quite important our current workforce remains safe and healthy both physically and mentally. If people go home safe at the end of the day and they also feel good about things, that’s a huge benefit.”
Duffy said 2021 is “a big year for us. With all of the projects on the go we’re investing over $250,000 in safety initiatives and programs for the industry including the mobile training unit which will flow through 2022 and beyond with our new three-year strategic plan.”
Throughout the fall, Fish Safe N.S. has been conducting a series of Safety Dock Talks, a modernized version of wharf visits, throughout southwestern Nova Scotia followed by a series of man overboard drills. Fish Safe N.S. also conducts fire, flooding, abandon ship and medical drills.
“We will be on the wharves until November,” said Duffy, and will have some swag such as hats and t-shirts promoting Hooked on Safety as giveaways.
Fish Safe N.S. has also adopted two new safety characters, Seamore the lobster and Shelly the snow crab.
“Seamore and Shelly will be mostly used in our projects that target and interact with younger generations as we promote safety at elementary and junior high levels,” said Duffy. “If people are brought up to learn they need to wear a PFD on the water it becomes second nature like a seatbelt.”