IFISH-6, the Sixth International Fisheries Industry Safety and Health Conference, concluded on January 12, 2024, at the FAO Headquarters in Rome. The conference began with a pre-conference workshop on January 8, led by United Nations Agencies. During the workshop, experts discussed global instruments and safety initiatives in the fishing industry. The conference formally began on January 9 and Dr. Manuel Barange, ADG, FAO, inaugurated it. He expressed concern about the number of fatalities in fisheries activities and called for measures to improve safety. Dr. Jennifer Lincoln (NIOSH) recounted the history of IFISH, and Dr. Jeremy Turner, former FAO, offered a eulogy in memory of Dr. Y S Yadava and his passionate advocacy to make safety an integral part of fisheries management.
On the first day of the conference, Dr. P Krishnan, Director, BOBP-IGO, delivered a keynote address called "Below the Radar: Safety Aspects of Small-Scale Fisheries in South Asia." The presentation explored the unique challenges faced by small-scale fisheries in countries like Bangladesh, India, Maldives, and Sri Lanka. Highlighting the developing but low capacity of people and institutions, Dr Krishnan said that it often led to a comprised solution for safety. He called for a wholesome safety measure that address all aspects of working condition of fishers including fisheries management, appropriate technology, economic incentives and enabling governance. He further informed the audience that BOBP-IGO will be implementing BOBSAFE- a regional safety plan and BOBLME project- a regional fisheries governance project which will contribute to the improvement of the working conditions of fishers in the region.
The conference sessions from January 9th to 11th covered safety and health standards, fisheries innovations, and more. On the closing day, Mr. R Mukherjee presented on "Assessing the Human Life Value and Insurance Disparities in the Bay of Bengal." The survey revealed that the current group insurance scheme for fishers in India covers only 18-55% of their lifetime income. Artisanal fishers are at high risk of destitution while mechanized fishers face relatively lower risk.
Throughout the Conference, participants engaged with experts, shared knowledge, and worked to improve safety and well-being in the fishing industry. A record 12 participants from Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka joined, showing academia's growing interest in addressing safety and working issues.