Fishers urged to ask - R U OK?

13-Sep-2018 5:45 AM

Despite Australia's fishers experiencing twice the base-rate of psychological stress of any other sector, there are no industry specific mental health programs available to fishers, like there are to other sectors like farming and building.

Seafood Industry Australia, the national peak-body representing the Australian seafood industry, has urged fishers to ask one another “R U OK?” this Thursday, September 13 as part of R U OK? Day.

“Sadly, Australia’s fishers experience twice the base-rate of psychological stress of any other sector,” Seafood Industry Australia (SIA) CEO Jane Lovell said.

“Significant contributing factors to these mental health problems are ongoing attacks against our well-managed fisheries and the continued threat to resource access.

“Seafood is the most sustainable protein source in the world and our fisheries are extremely well managed, which makes it difficult to understand why some in our community continue to try to shut our professional fishers out. What these people must realise is that their comments have very real consequences on the people who are doing their bit to put meals on our tables. Enough is enough, this needs to stop and our fishers need to be allowed to focus on the future of their sustainable businesses.

“SIA takes this issue very seriously and has been lobbying the Federal Government to provide fisheries specific programs, just like they have for so many other sectors like farmers and builders.

“We know our fishers are stoic and self-reliant, making them less likely to seek help, so this R U OK? Day we are urging fishers, their families and friends, to be on the lookout for signs of depression and reach out if you think yourself or someone needs help.”

Maritime anthropologist Dr Tanya King has studied the high rate of mental health problems among Australia’s fishers and said chronic job insecurity has led to high rates of suicide among fishers.

"It's certainly on par, and potentially worse, than the situation facing farmers in this country," she said. "The situation for fisherman has been virtually ignored. What's strikingly different for fisherman is that they can't privately own the resource that they work, because the ocean is a public resource which is managed by the government.”


"This introduces a level of insecurity,” Ms Lovell said. “Even though our fishers invest thousands of dollars in licences and quota, the banks don’t see this the same way as owning the land and they struggle to take that investment to the bank to borrow against.”

If you, or someone you know, is seeking crisis support please call:

?        Lifeline - 13 11 14

?        Beyond Blue - 1300 22 463

?        Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800



To organise an interview with SIA CEO Jane Lovell or Dr Tanya King please contact:

Jessica McInerney, Media and Communications Manager, Seafood Industry Australia

E: M: 0420 695 431