What We Do
For well over a decade, Fish Safe has been driven by a belief that because commercial fishermen are the primary stakeholders engaged in fishing, they should also be the primary voices utilized in defining, designing and delivering safety training in their industry.
Regulations have their place. Technology has its place. But unless commercial fishermen themselves are fully involved in the process of making their industry a progressively safer place to work, efforts to do so will be limited.
Fish Safe operates with a simple and focused mission:
“To give BC commercial fishermen the knowledge and tools to come home safely”
With Fish Safe’s inception in 2004, Gina McKay (née Johansen) became a widely recognized, driving force for safety training change in BC’s commercial fishing industry. Up to her retirement in March 2015, Gina worked tirelessly as Fish Safe’s Program Manager to advance the fishermen helping fishermen concept of helping commercial fishermen to make it part of their business to come home safely.
Personal tragedy touched Gina early in her life when she lost her father and uncle along with 4 additional crew in 1975 with the capsizing of the FV Bravado off the coast of Haida Gwaii.
Gina went on to become a commercial fisherman herself for 30 years however, the Bravado tragedy naturally influenced her in both her fishing operations and later as Fish Safe’s Program Manager. The development of innovative, fisherman-centric programs such as the Stability course, Safe on the Wheel course and the Safest Catch program resulted in recognition by Transport Canada whereby she received the National Marine Safety Award in 2012.
Today, Fish Safe continues to operate as the BC commercial fishing industry’s designated health and safety association. Fish Safe is funded by BC commercial fishermen. Fish buyers who pay the annual Worksafe insurance premium on behalf of commercial fish harvesters also pay a small levy on top of premiums – it is this levy that provides Fish Safe’s core funding.
Under the direction of Ryan Ford, Fish Safe’s Program Manager, a strong team of staff and experienced Safety Advisors continues to advance the safety interests of BC’s commercial fisherman. The fishermen helping fishermen model Gina advocated for so strongly during her tenure is deeply rooted in Fish Safe’s DNA and will continue to be its touchstone in the years to come.