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An interview with Vietnamese fishermen of Louisiana in the wake of the oil spill.

Levin-JL; Gilmore-K; Carruth-A; Nonnenmann-MW; Evert-W; King-D
J Agromed 2010 Oct; 15(4):337-342
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill has significantly impacted the commercial fishermen of the Gulf Coast, in particular, those from Louisiana. Many of the Vietnamese who reside in this region are fishermen. Given the recognized cultural influences on perceptions of occupational safety and health, the key informants' interviews were undertaken to gain a better understanding of views relative to issues currently faced by the Vietnamese fishermen and how best to reinforce safety messages, which have been the focus of a longstanding NIOSH-supported project involving this group. Though many observations made by the participants have been reported, it is important to re-emphasize some themes that have surfaced: 1.The consequences of the oil spill for the environment, for human health, and for the commercial fishing industry of the region are not fully understood and continue to evolve. The Vietnamese fishermen view this disaster differently than natural disasters, expressing much less ability to control their circumstances. 2.The most significant barrier to returning to fishing appears to be related to concerns over the safety (or perception of safety) of the food products. If there is no market for the seafood, the economic implications for the fishermen and continuation of fishing are dire. 3. Fishing has been a "way of life" with considerable financial investment, not easily changed. The fishermen want to work, but there are many obstacles. Cultural factors for this group are likely to continue to affect the outcome. For instance, pride in their work and trade may lead to further adversarial circumstances in the community. Another example pertains to how language barriers may limit interest in pursuing health care when necessary. 4.The perceived health implications of the oil spill (outside of food safety) by the fishermen are limited. Nonetheless, they feel that testing may be warranted related to exposure to chemical agents and the potential effects on the lungs. 5.There is growing mistrust within the community. However, safety training and reminders remain priorities, and the Vietnamese fishermen continue to desire messages in their language from trusted sources and opinion leaders.
Aquatic-working-environment; Fishing-industry; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Safety-programs; Health-protection; Environmental-pollution; Environmental-exposure
Jeffrey L. Levin, MD, MSPH, Professor and Chair, Department of Occupational Health Sciences, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, 11937 U.S. Highway 271, Tyler, TX 75708-3154, USA
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
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Issue of Publication
Priority Area
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
SIC Code
Source Name
Journal of Agromedicine
Performing Organization
University of Texas Health Center at Tyler