Selected tag(s): Fishing Safety

Fishing smarter can save lives

fishing safetyNPR’s Planet Money recently featured the Alaska Halibut fishery in a compelling story of how the commercial catch share system has dramatically improved safety for fishermen while preventing overfishing, ensuring a higher quality product, and allowing fishermen the time to invest in their fishing businesses.

Before the catch share, seasons were increasingly shortened until fishermen were forced to race against each other in 24 hour derbies—often risking their lives and their equipment.  After the new rules were put in place, fishermen were given a total number of fish they could catch, rather than being constrained by a short time window. The catch share program is part of the reason why the Coast Guard reported zero operational related commercial fishing fatalities in Alaska in Fiscal Year 2015.

Fishing is inherently dangerous but it’s still important to look at the several ways to make it safer. Inspections, the use of safety gear and training all make a difference. So can the way fishing regulations attempt to address overfishing. Read More »

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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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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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Alaska Fishermen Speak on Improved Safety Under Catch Share Management

A short video by the Marine Conservation Alliance includes interviews from fishermen about how much safer fishing has become in Alaska under catch share management.

One fisherman explains that before catch shares the crab fishing season, “was long enough that everybody was exhausted and you went beyond what maybe you should. And short enough that you couldn’t stop and rest.” Another fisherman states that with the catch share management system, “I don’t have to race for fish.”

Earlier this year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that in 2009 fishing was – once again – the deadliest job in America. The profession is often made more dangerous by traditional fishing regulations that sharply curtail when fishermen can be on the water. This increases pressure to catch as many fish or shellfish as quickly as possible. Fishermen sometimes go fishing even in the face of dangerous weather, overload their boats with equipment, and work much longer hours. Under catch shares, fishermen have far more flexibility on when to fish as long as they stay within their specified quota allotment for the season.

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