RISK ANALYSIS OF THE EFFECTS OF EXTREME WEATHER CONDITIONS ON COMMERCIAL FISHING VESSEL INCIDENTS
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The fishing industry is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. Extreme weather factors are an intrinsic part of the fishing operating environment and can present danger to fishers and fishing vessels. This thesis aims to investigate relationships between extreme environmental conditions and fishing incident activity levels, fishing incident rates and the severity level of fishing incidents in Canadian Atlantic Waters. The extreme environmental conditions in Atlantic Canada are most often associated with the passage of extratropical cyclones and icy water and can be characterized using wind speed, precipitation, air and sea surface temperature, Laplacian of pressure and ice coverage over the study area. Random Parameters Negative Binomial Regression showed that there was a strong relationship between the studied weather factors and fishing activity levels overall and, furthermore, different weather factors had different effects on various vessel sizes. There were correlations between harsh weather factors and fishing incidents. More specifically, incident rates increased in extreme weather conditions, but the effect of weather conditions were different in different seasons and some of factors were shown to be more significant than the others. Logistic Regression was used to examine how weather factors affect the severity level of fishing vessel incidents. The Laplacian of pressure, wind speed, sea surface temperature, and darkness were the most significant weather factors with respect to the severity level of fishing incidents associated with cyclones. Logistic Regression was also applied for individual fishery types, revealing that distinct fisheries can be effected by different weather factors. The relationships between environmental conditions and fishing safety can change over time due to the effects of climate change on weather patterns. A general framework was proposed to quantify fishing incident risks in the future due to changes in weather conditions. We concluded that the risk from environmental conditions is projected to increase in Gulf of St. Laurence and South of Nova Scotia, decrease to the North of Newfoundland and Labrador, and remain similar in rest of the study area by the end of this century. Finally this research suggests a knowledge mobilization structure to improve and update fishing policies with respect to the findings of this thesis in particular, as well as long and short term environmental considerations in general. The practical implications of this research include increasing the awareness of decision makers about fishers’ vulnerability towards extreme environmental conditions, thus providing better response resources to lower the consequences of fishing incidents, and potentially devising better accident prevention strategies.