The Government has launched a plan to reduce the number of workplace injuries in the fishing sector.

Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson and Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges said people working in the fishing industry are exposed to a wide range of hazards.

"Their work can be physically demanding - the hours long and the maritime environment provides an element of unpredictability of the workplace," said Ms Wilkinson. "There is no excuse for anyone to be put in danger, suffer serious injury or lose their life while on the job."

Commercial fishing has one of the highest combined fatality and injury rates for any sector in New Zealand, with more than seven per cent of the workforce reporting injuries each year.


Between 2001 and 2011 there were 33 deaths in the commercial fishing sector - more than any other sector.

The plan revealed that the most common ways people were dying while working the fishing industry were when: a boat capsized, there was a fire or explosion, people fell overboard or slipped while on board.

Injuries from fishing gear and machinery were common and open wounds, fractures, sprains, contusions and amputation had been documented.

Studies have revealed there is a high rate of muscular skeletal disorders in fishing workers as a result of awkward posture, heavy lifting and repetitive tasks.

The action plan was created by Maritime New Zealand in partnership with Fishsafe with support from ACC and the Department of Labour.

The plan will see the introduction of a proposed new Maritime Operator Safety System (MOSS) and Qualifications and Operational Limits framework (QOL).

"The Fishing Sector plan focuses on making sure fishermen are appropriately qualified and fishing vessels are appropriate for the work they do."

Mr Bridges said the move is part of the National Action Agenda for workplace health and safety. Action plans are now in place targeting the five sectors with consistently high levels of workplace injury, disease and fatalities - agriculture, construction, manufacturing, forestry and fishing.

Fishing Sector Action Plan:

- Part of the national Action Agenda for workplace health and safety - released March 2011

- Aim is to reduce the workplace death toll.

- Fishing is one of five sectors identified as having the highest rate of harm to workers. The others are construction, agriculture, forestry and manufacturing.

- Lifting crew competency.

- Ensuring vessel and equipment standards deliver safety improvements.