Selected tags: Safety

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

There are many factors that impact fishing safety including the rules that are put into place to address overfishing. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is in the process of revising the fishing safety provision in the Magnuson Stevens Act.  It’s important that the provision be strengthened so that new rules to make fisheries sustainable do not compromise safety.  Unintended consequences may sometimes result from some approaches to control fishing, such as imposing very short fishing seasons, limiting crew size, or the length of vessels.

One way to improve fishing safety is by choosing fishery management plans that do not result in fishing derbies–or a ‘race to fish’—where safety is compromised by an economic incentive to race against other fishermen and the clock to catch as many fish as possible, even in stormy weather. Catch shares are proven to keep fishing within limits and also can also positively impact safety in multiple ways, such as by reducing the pressure to fish in bad weather because  fishermen have more freedom over when to fish in a catch share. Catch shares are not an ideal solution for every fishery, but they should be kept in the toolbox of options for fishery Councils—especially if they can potentially help decrease the risk for fishermen.

Making fishing a significantly less deadly profession is going to take a variety of measures. It’s no small task because fishing is inherently dangerous, but it shouldn’t be any more dangerous than it has to be.  It’s time for fishing safety advocates, fishermen and conservationists to stand together to ensure safety is being considered in the formation of management plans.

 

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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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‘Deadliest Catch’ Fisherman Explains How His Job is Less Deadly Thanks to Catch Shares

The Discovery Channel’s The Deadliest Catch portrays just how dangerous commercial fishing can be. However, in today’s Wall Street Journal, Bering Sea fisherman and a cast member of the show, Scott Campbell, Jr., shares how the Alaska crab fishery is now significantly safer following the implementation of catch shares in August 2005. Read the full article here.

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Catch Shares Improve Safety for a Dangerous Job

Fishermen hauling in a fishing trawl.

Fishermen hauling in a trawl.

Today, fishing once again topped the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ list of most dangerous jobs in the U.S. In 2010, commercial fishing had a fatality rate per 100,000 full-time-equivalent employees 33 times the average rate for U.S. workers.  Although fortunately fishing’s fatality rate did decrease from 2009, it remains true that fishermen faced the highest chance of dying on the job compared with other occupations in the U.S.

Many things make fishing dangerous, but the way we regulate the industry can make things worse. For example, regulators often manage fishing by limiting when fishermen can be on the water, such as by setting short seasons, allocating a limited number of days at sea or shutting down a fishery when too many fish have been caught.

In order to catch enough fish to stay in business, fishermen must race to catch them before others do, which can lead to fishing in dangerous weather conditions, keeping exhausted crews on the water and overloading boats with excessive gear. All of these methods maximize catch in the short term but risk lives.

In contrast, catch shares give fishermen a secure amount of seafood they don't have to race their peers to catch. Catch shares provide flexibility to choose when to fish based on the weather and market conditions. Read More »

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