Understanding Industry Stress

Posted in Industry News

Fishermen and those in the seafood industry tend to be highly resilient. However, numerous reports are emerging in the Queensland seafood industry of declining states of mental health among fishers and their families. If you, or someone in your family, are suffering from stress – which may include sleeplessness, rapid breathing and/or heart-rate, shortness of breath, irritability, substance misuse, dizziness, nausea, headaches, teeth-grinding or clenching, difficulty concentrating or making simple decisions – you’re not alone.

Recent research has demonstrated a link between management changes that impact on fishing businesses – such as those currently underway in Queensland – and instances of poor mental health, stress, distress, anxiety and even self-harm and suicide. It is vital that you and your family take care of each other at this difficult time.

Observations of industry-wide stress and distress are typically difficult to capture or present in a coherent way. One way of gathering a sense of how the industry is going is via a K10 survey. It is a standard, widely used measure of ‘psychological distress’; it’s not a perfect diagnostic tool but can help to communicate the state-of-affairs at a particular point in time.

You can use the test yourself to gauge how you’re travelling and if you may benefit from professional help. If you feel you could benefit from some professional help, your doctor is your first port of call. It is understood that some people are reluctant to talk to their doctors about industry-related stress, due to a view that their doctor might not understand the particular stresses of the industry. Attached is a brochure (in draft form at this stage) for you to print out and take with you to your doctor to help start a conversation about your mental health. The information on the brochure is based on preliminary findings of a national survey of health and wellbeing in the fishing industry (a finalised version will be available in the coming months).

GP Brochure pdf

Also attached is a useful document produced by the group, Human Rights At Sea, about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which has been useful for some in the fishing industry.


QSIA would like you to complete a K10 test to get a sense of how the industry as a whole is faring, so that they can communicate this to Queensland fisheries management.

Please complete this online survey – it will take about 5 minutes – and ask that your wife, and any other family members over the age of 18 complete the survey also. The survey will be open for two weeks, and then collated and the results provided back to industry (and management) via QSIA.

The survey is online only for two reasons:

  1. Online surveys are fast to administer, collate and present;
  2. To better enable your anonymity. A paper version has to go to an address and will necessarily be postmarked on return – the online version is not tracked so once you click on the link you can answer without being identified.

It is very important that you answer as honestly as you can. Don’t spend too much time on each question; just give your initial ‘gut feeling’.

Click here to do the survey, or copy the following address into your browser: K10 Survey Link

Thanks to Dr Tanya King, at Deakin University for her advice and help on trying to understand stress in our industry.

Take care of yourselves.

Author: Keith Harris, President – Queensland Seafood Industry Association

Image: QSIA

The content of this post is provided for information purposes only and unless otherwise stated is not formal QSIA policy. The information on these posts are provided on the basis that all persons accessing the information undertake their own responsibility for assessing the relevance and accuracy of it.

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