NIOSH Analyzes Commercial Fisheries' Fatalities, Issues Recommendations

The Northeast's multi-species groundfish trawling had the highest fatality rate of all during 2005-2014 at 30 per 10,000 FTEs.

NIOSH recently posted four similar reports that analyze commercial fisheries' fatalities and fatality rates in four regions: West Coast, East Coast, Gulf of Mexico, Alaska. The "deadliest catch" during 2005-2014, according to these reports, was not Alaska salmon gillnetting or Bering Sea crabbing -- it was the Northeast's multi-species groundfish trawling, which had the highest fatality rate of all during 2005-2014 at 30 per 10,000 FTEs.

The agency did the analysis to identify current hazards among fisheries in different regions of the country.

The reports contain a table comparing the fatality rates during the period of 15 fisheries in these regions. The lowest rate was for Gulf of Mexico shrimping, a rate well below 5 per 10,000 FTEs. Six of the 10 fisheries with the highest rates were East Coast fisheries, according to the chart.

The reports discuss vessel disasters, falls overboard, confined space asphyxiations, fatal diving incidents, being struck by large waves, bad weather, vessel instability, sinkings, and running aground. The reports contain similar recommendations, including:

  • Take a marine safety class at least once every five years.
  • Conduct monthly abandon ship, fire, and flooding drills.
  • Ensure watertight integrity of your vessel.
  • Maintain a proper watch.
  • Wear a PDF while on deck.
  • Use a man-overboard alarm system.
  • Add effective recovery devices and re-boarding ladders.
  • Install safety devices on deck machinery.
  • Be prepared for a dive emergency.
  • Dive with an experience and alert dive tender
  • Maintain diving equipment.
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