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The reality of the fishing industry

On Behalf of | Mar 30, 2018 | Maritime Accidents

The commercial fishing industry has long been known for its tough working environments and potential safety hazards. Many New Yorkers are unaware, however, of the complexities of the dangers fishing workers face on any given shift. The following takes a look at the reality of fishing work, and the many ways in which employees put their lives on the line.

It is no surprise that a job involving one of the earth’s most powerful elements would take a considerable amount of grit. ToughNickel identifies fishing-related jobs as some of the most dangerous in the nation, even deeming it as having some of the highest fatality rates in a 2014 study. Until 2015, ToughNickel called this work the toughest in the country. In 2008 alone, the industry saw 129 deaths and 61 injuries per 100,000 workers; that number only dropped slightly in 2010, with 116 fatalities. Nevertheless, this field of work attracts countless employees to choppy waves, uncertain weather and other unexpected turns of the job. 

It may be clear that fishing is no light work, but why, exactly, is it so dangerous? CNN Money reports that a large majority of accidents at sea occur when boats capsize in storms. Other reasons include the following:

  • Sinking from hull damage
  • Use of derby systems
  • Use of other heavy-duty equipment 

CNN explains that derby systems, a technique of the past, gave crews the opportunity to maximize the amount of fish caught before a season’s end. In doing so, many fishing workers rushed their jobs, resulting in accidents. One plus side to the industry involves improved safety measures for crabbers: without the risky derby system, they no longer have to work in potentially dangerous conditions, such as unpredictable waters after dark. Recent safety efforts may have improved conditions of this industry, but it appears that fishing may have a long way to go when it comes to utmost employee protection.