A national perspective on the commercial fishing safety record was presented. The main data source for fishing vessel casualties in the United States was the Coast Guard's main casualty database which was based on Marine Accident Reports (CASMAIN). However, many incidents were never reported. In the 1982 to 1987 survey period, only serious casualties that resulted in at least 25,000 dollars in damages, a fatality, or both were included. About 1,100 major vessel casualties per year were reported, with 216 vessel losses, and an associated average of 58 fatalities per year. Foundering and fires were the most common causes. Vessel related casualties were most common on the West Coast and Alaska. Average fatalities per year during the survey period was 108 (47 per 100,000 workers). This did not take into account the large number of persons who worked part time in the industry. The rate was strikingly higher for vessels longer than 79 feet (200 per 100,000 workers). Fishing fatalities occurred in roughly equal numbers in the North Atlantic, Gulf Coast, West Coast, and Alaska. By far the highest number of fatalities occurred as a result of crew falling into the water. The author concludes that there is a serious nationwide problem regarding safety in the fishing industry, that many different kinds of casualties occur, and that more and better data reporting and collection are needed in order to understand and address the problem better.
Proceedings of the National Fishing Industry Safety and Health Workshop, Anchorage, Alaska, October 9-11, 1992