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Despite improvement, Alaska fishing deaths remain high

On Behalf of | Mar 25, 2024 | Alaska Fishing News

According to a report from the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, the number of commercial fishing fatalities in Alaska’s waters between 2013 and 2022 decreased by well over 50%. The council’s report was summarized by a major Alaska media source.

While this is promising news, the council pointed out that the fishing industry is still a dangerous profession.  Furthermore, many of the nation’s annual fishing fatalities happen in Alaska’s waters.

The sharp decline in the number of commercial fishing fatalities in Alaska follows a national trend. However, of all the deaths in the decade surveyed, 1 out of 3 of them happened in Alaska’s waters.

Of the deaths in Alaska, about 33% were because of a catastrophic problem with the vessel, like sinking, running aground or capsizing. Falls overboard from the ship accounted for 23% of all deaths, and 28% of the deaths were due to accidents on the vessel itself.

The council referred to a prior study that indicated vessels with a prior history of work-related deaths and those with expired safety tags were more likely to be involved in a disaster.

Likewise, larger vessels with steel hulls were three times more likely to be involved in a catastrophe. These types of boats tend to operate during Alaska’s winters and away from the shore. The sea is much more dangerous in such conditions.

This finding is consistent with older research published on the website of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This research found that crews fishing for crab and other shellfish were at higher risk of fatal accidents compared to other forms of fishing. Crab season falls in the winter.

Crew members and their families have legal options after a fatality or injury

After a tragedy at sea, the families of deceased crew members may be able to recover compensation for their losses. Likewise, crew members and their families have legal remedies after a crew member suffers an injury.