Published On: Thu, Dec 24th, 2020

Commercial Fishing: Why it’s So Dangerous

Every year the commercial fishing industry attracts a number of newcomers with its promise of high-earnings. Many of these offshore opportunities make it possible for fishers to generate significant amounts of money in short periods of time. However, the high-profit potential of this work is definitely not without its risks. 

Commercial fishing jobs are among some of the most dangerous positions that people can accept. This is especially true when vessels are poorly maintained, or staffed by seamen with high expectations but limited to no experience. Read on to discover why the commercial fishing industry has such a high rate of injuries and fatalities.

Commercial Fishing Is Often Performed in Highly Challenging Environments

Many people who are lured into commercial fishing opportunities with promises of fast money think that this work will be comparable to the lazy summer afternoons they’ve spent lakeside. However, this work is far different from leisurely fishing off of docks or from small, private boats. 

The typical commercial fishing job places seamen in incredibly remote and challenging environments. Land is often completely out of sight, and the outside temperatures are far lower than most workers are accustomed to. 

Commercial fishing vessels frequently explore areas that place them many miles away from shore. As such, when problems occur, their crews must have the resources, training, and ability to either solve them or successfully wait them out until help can arrive. Many unexpected events affect boat safety, and when things go wrong it can often result in serious injuries and death.

Insufficient Medical Support

One of the major dangers of working in this industry is having limited access to adequate medical support when injuries are sustained at sea. Although some vessels maintain medical personnel at all times, absent of high-quality resources and equipment, the treatments that these professionals are capable of rendering are always limited. 

Due to this fact, even minor health issues can become far more serious as infections set in or other secondary problems develop. Given the high level of risk that fishermen face, it is important for all crew members to know their rights, and the responsibilities of their employers, particularly as these apply to medical treatment. 

When negligence or oversight leads to injury or death, or when insufficient access to medical support causes devastating loss, seamen and their families can always request a consultation with a personal injury attorney specializing in maritime laws and the Jones Act.

Insufficient Training and Lack of Adequate Survival Gear

When unexpected events and problems do arise, sea vessels must have enough survival and life-saving gear for everyone on board including:

  • Sea-worthy and temperature-appropriate survival suits
  • Whistles
  • Ropes
  • Life jackets
  • Lifeboats

Unfortunately, many commercial fishing boats are ill-prepared for meeting the needs of all crew members in some of the most dangerous situations. Moreover, given that commercial fishing boats are often staffed by people who are new to the industry, many are ill-trained to respond with timely and appropriate action. 

When things go awry at sea, immediate action is required for limiting damages and loss of life. Absent training, some crew members aren’t only unable to help, they can also become liabilities. Seamen with poor or insufficient training can put both themselves and their fellow mates in danger.

High Levels of Competition Can Create Dangerous Circumstances

Commercial fishing is also one of the most competitive industries in the world. Vessels of all sizes frequently rush to key fishing areas in efforts to reach the largest or most valuable targets first. 

Throughout the seafood season, these rushes can be especially dangerous for smaller vessels. In their struggles to compete, many small vessels venture beyond the range of safety in search of resources of comparable value outside of overly crowded zones.

Taking a commercial fishing job can be an effective way to earn significant amounts of money within relatively short periods of time. Unfortunately, however, the risks of working in this industry match and often outmatch its profit potential. Given the vast range of dangers that those who work at sea face, there is much that employers must do to ensure the continued safety of their crews.

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