In the context of the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, the fishing industry must adapt its practices and operations to ensure workers’ protection and allow business continuity. A Business Continuity Plan must therefore be implemented by each company according to their type of activity, size, organization and environment.
This reality raises many uncertainties, questions and challenges regarding the implementation of the necessary measures and the rights and obligations of everyone in this context.
We understand that the challenges in human resources, manpower, infrastructure and work organization are enormous.
Consequently, the Government of New Brunswick, through the Working NB branch of the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, has set up the Provincial Adjustment Committee to support the priority fisheries sector during this COVID-19 crisis.
The mandate is to support the fishing industry by offering assistance in implementing the necessary adaptations associated with COVID-19,specifically by providing recommendations, best practices and tools allowing the continuity of your activities, the implementation of prevention measures and the understanding of everyone's (employers and employees) rights and obligations in this context.
We would like to offer assistance and provide relevant information to the fishing industry.
You can count on our support in this exceptional situation. Do not hesitate to reach out. We are committed to helping the community find the information and assistance they need.
Chair of the COVID-19 Adjustment Implementation Sub-Committee in the Fisheries Sector
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Experts point out that the main route of entry is the respiratory tract. In the current state of knowledge, the possible contamination from food ( animal source) that could come from an infected animal has been excluded.
Infected humans can contaminate food through poor hygiene practices, coughing, sneezing, or contact with dirty hands. To date, there is no evidence to suggest that consumption of contaminated food can lead to infection by the digestive tract; however, the possibility of respiratory tract infection during chewing cannot be totally excluded.
In all cases, experts point out that cooking (e.g. 4 min at 63 ° C) could be considered effective in inactivating coronaviruses in food.
Good hygienic practices, if applied correctly when handling and preparing food, prevent contamination of food with the SARSCoV-2 virus.
Experts nevertheless point to the "average" uncertainty attached to these conclusions, given the limited number of scientific studies on this new virus. New scientific facts, which will complement the knowledge on this virus, could modify this uncertainty.
Source: FDA, ANSE
The World Health Organization said:
"It is not known with certainty how long the virus responsible for COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems that it behaves like other coronaviruses. Studies (and preliminary information on COVID-19) tend to show that coronaviruses can persist on surfaces for a few hours to several days. This may depend on different parameters (e.g. type of surface, temperature or ambient humidity). "
On March 17, 2020, The New England Journal of Medicine published an article on the stability of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and SARS-CoV-1. According to the article, the half-life of COVID-19 on different materials was summarized as follows:
Conditions Half-life time (minutes)
Aerosol droplets 66
Stainless steel 338
We do not anticipate that food products would need to be recalled or be withdrawn from the market because of COVID-19, as there is currently no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with food or food packaging.
Source: FDA, ANSE
1. Create a crisis unit
Well-prepared companies have a business continuity plan (BCP), which is drawn up by a multidisciplinary working committee made up of the organization’s main departments and provides for the creation of a crisis unit as needed.
Even if you don’t have a BCP, set up a crisis unit now.
This unit must be a small group, comprised only of the main managers of critical functions.
Within the unit, designate:
· a leader who heads the group and has decision-making authority; and
· a communications manager.
Take the necessary precautions to protect unit members from pandemic risks. You will need them to be healthy and able to make decisions for as long as the crisis lasts.
Name key players with significant expertise in your organization to advise the unit and supply it with information and ideas.
2. Clarify roles and responsibilities
In a crisis, it is essential that everyone knows what their responsibilities are and who they report to.
Establish a chain of command that will carry out the crisis unit’s decisions in a disciplined manner throughout the organization.
Check to see if your usual organizational chart still applies. It may need adjustments, or some responsibilities may need to be transferred to the crisis unit. If you don’t have an organizational chart, it would be a good idea to draw one up quickly.
You can also map the most important processesif you haven’t already done so.
Even in summary form, these graphic tools allow the crisis unit to visualize the organization as a whole while it analyzes the risks and makes decisions.
3. Identify key resources and the risks that affect them
What are your products and services for which there is ongoing demand and for which demand is expected to continue over the next few months?
Who is essential to the organization’s survival even if demand has fallen suddenly due to the crisis?
What are the essential supplies for your activities?
Who are the suppliers that you can’t do without?
What are your key positions and who are your key employees?
For each key resource, what are the short- and medium-term risks that could deprive you of that resource?
4. Prepare a plan B
You have probably already identified solutions to your current problems. However, even if your situation is already difficult , the crisis may worsen and new pitfalls may arise, so it’s still a good time to be proactive.
Here are some options to consider:
• Build reserves of raw materials that could run out.
• Find other suppliers or replacement materials.
• Quickly train an employee to replace another staff member for critical tasks if necessary.
• Modify your operational procedures to reduce your dependence on specific employees or suppliers.
• Consider transferring activities to another department or temporarily relocating some activities.
When exceptional circumstances warrant it, be ready to think outside the box:
• Outsource activities that you normally perform in-house.
• Cooperate with competitors.
• Enlist the collaboration of suppliers or customers.
• Leverage skills you may not know aboutin your current employees.
• Assign employees to different tasks.
• Call upon former employees as reinforcements.
• Hire a consultant.
The past few weeks have shown us that nothing is certain. Don’t hesitate to consider catastrophic scenarios to better prepare yourself.
5. Adapt your communications to the situation
• Keep a constant watch so as to be able to inform your crisis unit and ensure that your communications are in line with the information that your employees are getting from the media.
• Identify a good spokesperson.
• Communicate regularly, following the example of the Government of New Brunswick.
• Give yourself permission not to have all the answers but commit to providing them as quickly as possible afterwards.
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