Category Archives: Fishing Safety

Smart fishery management can make fishing safer

Front Cover PhotoAmerican fishermen are 23 times more likely than the average American worker to die on the job.

That’s a shockingly high number, and it might not surprise you if you’ve watched Deadliest Catch. Amazingly, it’s better than it used to be, and a policy that EDF has championed for a decade has played a significant role.

The on-the-job death rate comes from the Department of Labor’s annual review of workplace fatalities. Each year, the DOL analyzes all on-the-job fatalities (in actual deaths and deaths per 100,000 jobs), and for years, fishermen have held the first or second highest fatality rate. What this year’s numbers don’t show, however, is how some fisheries are making the industry a lot less deadly.

Fishermen face risks from treacherous weather conditions and heavy equipment. In some fisheries, however, the rules that govern when and where they fish actually encourage risky decisions. When fishermen are subjected to rules that limit when they can fish, they find themselves in a race against the clock, the competition, and the weather. Read More »

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Setting aside space provides room for innovation

By Sarah Poon

Territorial Use Rights for Fishing, or TURFs, have been in place for centuries in fishing communities around the world.  In a TURF, fishery participants have a secure, exclusive privilege to fish in a defined area.  Many fishery policy experts view TURFs and catch share programs as separate options for managing fisheries. TURFs are a type of catch share, since the area-based privileges assigned under a TURF provide the same rewards for stewardship as quota-based privileges.

In recent decades fishery managers have channeled the historical successes of this approach by formally recognizing customary TURFs, applying them to more fisheries and experimenting  with modern adaptations.

Community-based territorial rights that have existed for centuries are now formally recognized by national law in Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands and Palau.  Empowered by national law promoting traditional community-based management, the Safata District of Samoa implemented a district-wide TURF in 2000.  Bylaws developed by the community manage members’ fishing efforts and limit outsiders’ access.  Safata’s leaders have further improved biological performance by establishing a network of no-take reserves.  With a formalized role in management, the district has received strong community support, high regulatory compliance and increased abundance for important species.

TURF systems have been used in different types of fisheries, but they are particularly well-suited for managing near shore fisheries where there is a clear spatial range of fishing activity. While these systems are ideal for less mobile species that don’t move beyond TURF boundaries, they can also be designed for more mobile species. Read More »

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Letter: Fishing Regulations Shouldn’t Imperil Safety

USCG Boat, Oregon

photo credit: Tidewater Muse via photopin cc

Regulations to restock fisheries and keep fishermen safe ought to go hand in hand. Unfortunately, in an effort to control how many fish are caught, regulators frequently impose rules that end up putting fishermen in harm’s way. For instance, if fishermen are limited to a set number of days on the water, there is pressure to go out and stay out, no matter the weather conditions.   This time constraint also makes it less likely that captains and crew will take safety precautions and get enough rest.

EDF Oceans has joined safety advocates and families of commercial fishermen who have lost their lives at sea in signing a letter urging the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to ensure that rules to control overfishing do not result in unsafe conditions for fishermen.

The letter, signed by members of the Safe at Sea Network, as well as other fishing safety advocates, says, “When it comes to fishing safety, management plans should ‘first do no harm.’” Read More »

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Department of Labor Finds Fishing is (once again) the Deadliest Job

The U.S. Department of Labor released its final statistics on job fatalities in 2011 today.  Fishing was once again the deadliest occupation, with a fatality rate 36 times that of the national average. Fishing is consistently the most dangerous American occupation, year after year, which is surprising to many people who do not fish or are not close to the industry.

NPR produced this compelling visual based on the last numbers the Department of Labor released in 2012 on job fatalities:

Bureau Of Labor Statistics Deadliest Jobs 2011

Source: Bureau Of Labor Statistics
Credit: Jess Jiang and Lam Thuy Vo /NPR

Read More »

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What’s the Deadliest Job? Police Officer? Fire Fighter? Fisherman?

NPR’s Planet Money created a compelling graphic to illustrate how different jobs compare in terms of the risk of getting killed on the clock.  While police and fire fighters may come to mind as being the deadliest occupations, fishermen actually have the highest risk per 100,000 workers of losing their lives.

Fishing is inherently a dangerous profession, but there are many ways to make it safer that deserve attention. One is catch share management, which ends the race to fish and relieves some of the pressure on fishermen to be on the water in the worst weather because they’re afraid the fishing season will be cut off. Read more about the impact catch shares have had on safety here.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Deadliest Jobs

Source: Bureau Of Labor Statistics
Credit: Jess Jiang and Lam Thuy Vo /NPR

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In-Depth Reporting on the Dangers of Commercial Fishing

US Commercial Fishing Fatalities By Region 2000-2009, 504 total

Source: Jennifer Lincoln, NIOSH

The Center for Public Integrity teamed up with NPR and WBUR to report on the significant dangers of the commercial fishing industry. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that commercial fishing is the deadliest job in America.In 2010, fishermen faced a risk of dying on the job 42 times higher than the average worker.

The in-depth piece by the Center for Public Integrity’s Ronnie Greene highlights a host of reasons why fishing can be such risky business. In many ways fishing is inherently dangerous. One fisherman interviewed explained if there’s a problem on the boat at sea you can’t exactly pull over and call AAA. Read More »

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