Commercial fishing, also known as industrial fishing, has been around for centuries. Fishing provides a large quantity of food to many countries around the world and employs between 80,000-160,000 fishermen in the U.S. alone (NIOSH, 2008). Although, the work is very beneficial and provides livelihood for many, the practice itself has remained unchanged and often involves long hours, far out from shore, under adverse conditions, which can result in a variety of consequences, including fatalities (McDonald & Kucera, 2007).
The high incidence of injury and fatality in the commercial fishing industry has brought about National concern (Van Noy, 1995). During 2000-2006, commercial fishing was considered one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States with an average annual fatality rate of 115 deaths per 100,000 fishermen (CDC, 2008). This rate is about 36 times greater than the fatality rate of all U.S. workers (NIOSH; Lincoln et al., 2008). Some of the major causes of fishing fatalities and injuries are falling overboard and drowning or dying from resulting hypothermia and equipment malfunctions (NIOSH, 2008).