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A look at why commercial fishing is so dangerous

From the Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch" to National Geographic's "Wicked Tuna," it seems like just about every television network has its own show about commercial fishing. And why not? Just in the United States alone, the commercial fishing industry brings in roughly $4 billion a year, according to NOAA's most recent data. It's a huge market that many people know very little about, making these kinds of shows interesting and educational to say the least.

But one thing that sets these shows apart from others on the same channel is the fact that commercial fishing shows not only show how the job is done, they also show how incredibly dangerous it can be as well. In today's post, we'd like to highlight a few of these dangers, particularly for those who know little about commercial fishing jobs.

On deck dangers. From fishing nets to crane hoists, slippery walking surfaces to large machinery, there are a number of things on the decks of most fishing vessels that can lead to injury or even death. This becomes particularly true when the seas are rough or when deckhands are not at their fullest attention.

Falls overboard. Falling overboard can happen in any type of weather and in any type of water but it is most dangerous during rough seas and cold weather. If the deckhand who falls overboard is not wearing appropriate life-saving gear, the likelihood of death or serious injury increases.

Improper boat maintenance. Because of the conditions out on the open sea, proper boat maintenance is key to a safe trip home. Anything from a leaking hull to an ill-fitting watertight door can spell disaster for a ship and her crew.

Inclement weather. Like with many outdoor occupations, commercial fishing becomes more dangerous the worse the weather becomes. Particularly harsh seas can easily toss a boat around, causing equipment to injure deckhands or the boat to capsize. Many maritime disasters have occurred because of inclement weather, oftentimes ending in the loss of lives.

Sources: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Commercial Fishing Safety," Accessed Oct. 6, 2015

NOAA's State of the Coast, "Commercial Fishing – A Cultural Tradition," Accessed Oct. 6, 2015

How Stuff Works, "Why was Alaskan fishing named the most dangerous job in the world?" Cristen Conger, Accessed Oct. 6, 2015

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