The COVID-19 pandemic has expanded what our definition of brave looks like to include people who wear scrubs, aprons, and gum boots. Essential service workers are providing health care, public safety, and ensuring your family can access food while putting themselves at risk of contracting the virus.
While the BC Ministry of Health provided guidance to grocery stores, fish and seafood harvesters were looking for more clarity on how to proceed. With an evolving situation, the fishing industry decided to come together for the common good.
March 25, 2020, a 25-person emergency COVID-19 Active Fishermen’s Committee was formed in a meeting that included 150 people from across BC’s fishing industry — active fish harvesters, First Nations leaders, and non-profits, including Ecotrust Canada.
The committee collaborated to create a set of protocols and protections for those who are still fishing on West Coast of Canada, and for the communities they visit.
“These communities are where we grew up, they’re our homes and those of the people we employ, so there was no question that the safety of our communities had to be maintained first and foremost. These protocols were our priority to ensure we’re operating in a way that’s safe for coastal communities and First Nations,” said Guy Johnson, active fisherman and COVID-19 fisheries protocol coordinator in the press release.
The protocol offers guidance for fish harvesters during the COVID-19 pandemic and may change as the situation unfolds.
The list of protocols includes:
- Pre-season practices to keep the vessel virus-free before leaving port
- How to operate on the grounds of a community when collecting supplies or unloading
- How to address onboard health issues
- Consultation with First Nations to ensure they’re able to access food fish for their community, and that nearby commercial fishing activity won’t disrupt their capacity to harvest