Commercial Fishing Vessel Guidance

This guidance is for captains and crews involved in commercial fishing during the COVID-19 pandemic.  During this time, all people involved must take precautions to help keep workers safe and the fishing industry operating without interruption.

Core measures required by all businesses, services and organizations:

  • Develop an operational plan detailing how risk of transmission of disease will be mitigated; if an organization is responsible for multiple vessels/facilities, any relevant unique aspects of the different locations must be addressed.
  • Take every reasonable step to ensure minimal interaction of people within two metres of each other.
  • Take every reasonable step required to prevent workers who are required to self-isolate from entering the workplace.
  • Develop and follow an exclusion policy that ensures symptomatic workers are immediately excluded from activities.
  • Ensure enhanced cleaning and disinfection of shared areas and surfaces.
  • Ensure hand washing stations or hand sanitizing products are available and accessible.

Measures for commercial fishing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Implement a policy requiring anyone with COVID-19 symptoms to notify their employer, immediately go to a drop-in testing clinic and self-isolate.
    • Workers who develop symptoms associated with COVID-19 while on the vessel should immediately self-isolate as best possible on the vessel (e.g. in a separate area away from the rest of the crew) and be brought back to the wharf where they will return to their residence, make arrangements to go to a drop-in testing clinic immediately and self-isolate.
  • In addition to routine cleaning, all areas of the vessel where an ill worker had contact should be cleaned and disinfected in accordance with the vessel sanitation plan.
  • Captain and crew should be asked/record daily if they have any symptoms of COVID-19, have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, or are required to self-isolate such that they are not permitted to work on a fishing vessel. If the captain or crew answers yes to any of these questions, they should not report to work. Anyone experiencing symptoms or who has been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19  should go to a drop-in testing clinic and self-isolate.
  • Promote hand washing or sanitizing prior to boarding and throughout the duration of the trip.
  • Collect records of captain and crew members including the names and phone number, as well as everyone’s schedule, and keep for one month to facilitate contact tracing in the event of an outbreak.
    • Store the records in a safe, secure location for one month after their creation and then dispose of using a secure destruction method to maintain the confidentiality of participants.  For paper records, secure destruction means, at minimum, cross-cut shredding.
    • Have an internal process in place to quickly retrieve these records, should the records be needed, even on weekends.
    • Consider the following :
      • ensure to capture people's full name (first and last)
      • print information clearly so it is readable
      • including contextual information such as the name of the activity and the time of the activity
      • make sure that everybody who needs to be captured is included on the list, e.g. any visitors to the vessel
      • capture not only people's names and contact information but also what role they play/work area they are in, and
      • have an electronic copy of the list ready to go and check the accuracy of the list frequently
  • For any workers arriving from outside of PEI, ensure to verify the travel and isolation requirements for your situation

Prior to Boarding the Vessel/On the Wharf

  • Any carpooling should follow the Carpooling and Essential Transport Guidance
  • Implement physical distancing practices (2m) when performing work activities on the wharf, such as setting up work stations 2 m apart, and/or using physical or visual cues (such as dots or other markers) to help employees identify what is 2 m apart.
  • For any tasks where physical distancing cannot be maintained:
    • Limit close interactions among different groups of workers/keep work teams together (e.g. vessel crew works with each other; crew unloading catch works each other)
    • Minimize the crew and other workers time performing the tasks
    • Non-medical masks are an extra layer of protection from the spread of COVID-19.  Ensure workers have access to non-medical masks and are encouraged to wear them as long as the non-medical mask does not impair vision or interfere with work tasks or otherwise pose a hazard to the employee while working.

While On Board the Vessel

  • Operate the vessel with the minimum number of crew possible to safely carry out fishing activities.  Limit access to crew members only.
  • Ensure soap and water for hand washing or hand sanitizer is readily available on the vessel and is conveniently located.
  • Assign work activities in a manner that allows the crew to maintain physical distancing (2m).  Minimize the crew’s work time performing tasks where physical distancing cannot be maintained. Non-medical masks are an extra layer of protection from the spread of COVID-19; ensure workers have access to non-medical masks and are encouraged to wear them as long as the non-medical mask does not impair vision or interfere with work tasks or otherwise pose a hazard to the employee while working.
  • Stagger the crew’s time in the vessel’s cabin to maintain physical distancing (2m).
  • Do not share personal protective equipment, clothing, or gloves.
  • Gloves should be worn at all times when carrying out work activities.
  • Cups, cutlery and plates must not be shared and must be thoroughly cleaned each day.
  • Clean and disinfect shared equipment, frequently touched surfaces (handles, steering wheel, knives, etc.), washrooms and galley areas regularly with an approved cleaner and disinfectant.
  • Take shifts sleeping in individually identified cabin areas on overnight trips.
  • The captain and crew should remain on board the vessel while offloading their catch or maintain physical distancing (2m) at all times from others on the wharf.
  • Maintain physical distancing from any fishery monitors completing any necessary activities on the vessel and individuals unloading catch.  
Published date: 
March 25, 2021
Health and Wellness

General Inquiries

Department of Health and Wellness
4th Floor North, Shaw Building
105 Rochford Street
Charlottetown, PE   C1A 7N8

Phone: 902-368-6414
Fax: 902-368-4121

DeptHW@gov.pe.ca