Peak lobster season has arrived in Maine, where the majority of this seafood harvest occurs from June to December. While lobster season goes year-round in the state, lobstermen along the Atlantic coast usually secure their best hauls in the summer and fall. However, this year, the COVID-19 crisis has greatly affected lobster, which continues to remain the state’s primary fishing industry.
While the economic impact pinches lobstermen and businesses part of the supply chain, this is just another worry. Lobstermen, who bring in the haul, face an abundant amount of risks, hazards and dangers on the job.
Lobster industry accounted for most deaths
With 10 fatalities, the Northeast lobster industry accounted for the most deaths of any East Coast commercial fishing fleet between 2010 and 2014. Of the 60 fatalities reported among East Coast fishing fleets during that period, nearly 17% were attributed to the lobster industry. The six deaths within the Atlantic scallop industry ranked as the second most, and the five deaths in the Atlantic oyster ranked third.
Falls overboard accounted for half of all fatalities – five – within the lobster industry. Vessel disasters led to three of deaths. In addition, two deaths took place when divers checked traps and lines. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) continues to recommend lobstermen always wear personal flotation devices while on deck. In addition, the availability of engineering controls/strategies for lobstermen has led to the reduction of gear entanglements.
Economic and safety concerns
Maine’s lobster industry had taken a big hit due to the COVID-19 crisis. As a result, the U.S. government promises to provide federal aid of $20.3 million to the state’s fisheries and independent operators. But this is just an added concern to the job-related risks. Lobstermen need to focus on safety every minute when they are out at sea.