Commercial fishing fatalities in Alaska in the various fishery types during the January 1991 through September 1992 period were analyzed. Data sources included the Alaska Department of Labor (annual surveys since 1984), the Alaska Fishing Entry Commission, the McDowell Corporation (1989), the Alaska Seafood Study Commission (1989), and the Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program. Results showed that the average yearly fatality rate for all Alaskan fishers was about 200 per 100,000. During the period surveyed 62 fishers died on the job, and the highest number of fatalities (nearly 480 per 100,000) was in the shellfish fishery, followed by the halibut fishery with 300 per 100,000. Salmon and ground fisheries approximated 100 per 100,000. The substantially elevated fatalities in the shellfish industry were due to the disproportionately high number of multiple fatalities in the Bering Sea during November through February (two crabbing vessels with six crew members each had vanished). Crabbers also died on deck during harvesting operations, and being struck by crab pots. The author concludes that an Alaskan fishery worker experiences nearly five times the risk of dying on the job than the average worker, and that shellfish harvesting is the most hazardous fishing industry and probably the riskiest job in the United States.
Proceedings of the National Fishing Industry Safety and Health Workshop, Anchorage, Alaska, October 9-11, 1992