Over the years there have been many cases of decompression sickness in fisherfolks in Antigua and Barbuda more specifically the conch divers as well as conch fisheries.

The Fisheries Division has been trying to improve the occupational health and safety of fisherfolks so that the safety and livelihood of fisherfolks are protected.

In 2016, it was mandatory that the fisherfolks were trained in safety at sea inclusive of first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Divers were also trained in divers’ safety, which is important to ensure that no injuries are sustained as they apply their trade.

Last week, the Fisheries Division was represented by Chief Fisheries Officer, Ian Horsford and Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs, Hon. Samantha Marshall handed over oxygen kits to fisher folk divers at the Urlings Fisheries Complex.

Mr. Horsford explained that the division sought medical equipment to assist divers with whatever mishaps that may take place and hopes that it will help in improving the safety of fisherfolks in the industry.

The equipment handed over to the divers included an emergency oxygen tank and mask, and each fisheries complex will be equipped with a larger oxygen tank for emergencies and refills.

Hon. Samantha Marshall expressed gratitude to the People and Government of Japan for their timely donation to the fisherfolks in Antigua.

“I think that if we are asking our fisherfolks to increase production and to make sure that they maximize and do their best, I think that it is important that we also promote safety and protection of our fisherfolks,” explained Minister Marshall.

Fisherfolks were given a brief demonstration after the handing over on how to operate the tanks and workshops will be available for them to participate and learn more about how to protect themselves and others.