B.C. fishers have established a series of COVID-19 protocols to protect rural coastal communities, First Nations and fish harvesters from the novel coronavirus.
In a release on April 20, the COVID-19 Active Fishermen’s Committee, a 25-person emergency committee formed on March 25 with the support of 150 harvesters, announced it had created Community-Fisheries Safety Protocols to support fishers, communities and harbour authorities.
BC Commercial Fishing Caucus Co-ordinator Jim McIsaac told the Observer the committee created the protocols to mitigate the risk of transmission between fishers and coastal communities, as well as protect fishers from contracting the virus and to ensure seafood reaches Canadians.
McIsaac said the protocols range from pre-season quarantine time to best practices while at sea, such as guidelines for safely resupplying with fuel and food.
As for pre-season, he said the protocols include a 14-day quarantine “to make sure that the crews, when they come together, are clear of COVID-19.”
If crews are coming from other areas of the province or country, they need to self-isolate for 14 days prior to any work starting as a group on the boat, he said.
If a crew member tests positive during the quarantine time, they do not get on the vessel.
The protocols also say crews will need to continue hand washing with soap on the boat “and to be extra-vigilant in this,” and members’ temperatures should be logged daily using an infra-red temperature gauge.
Fishing vessels should only come to port when they need to unload or re-supply, and when they do, McIsaac said there should be no “mixing with other boats.”
To minimize contact, crew members should also stay on the boat, and goods and services should be delivered when possible.
For example, McIsaac said CBI General Manager Al Frick asked a crew to stay on board their vessel last month and when the crew said they needed bait, Frick facilitated that.
“That’s an example of a community supporting those protocols,” McIsaac said.
To prevent unsanitary conditions, he said the protocols also ask that harbour authorities keep washroom facilities open.
The protocols say “this will probably also require extra cleaning from wharf staff as well, but is crucial to ensure the harvest of seafood in Canada.”
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