April 29, 2009

Factors Limiting Progress

Currently both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) are responsible for the safety of commercial fishermen. Because OSHA only has jurisdiction 3 miles from the shoreline, the USCG is the main enforcer (Lincoln et al., 2008). However, efforts to maintain safety have been mostly voluntary and formed in pieces (Van Noy, 1995). In 1988, the U.S. Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Safety Act (CFIVSA) was developed. The U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for enforcing the Act by conducting vessel inspections to check for drugs, illegal fishing, and safety violations (CDC, 2008).


• Inspections are NOT conducted on a regular basis
• Primary concerns of CFIVSA is to save lives AFTER ship has gone under
• NOT preventive measures
• U.S. Coast Guard enforcement limited
• LACK of safety equipment on board
• LACK of training on how to use equipment
• NO unions for small scale fishermen
• INCOMPLETE data (U.S. Coast Guard databases)

The Alaska Marine Safety Education Association (AMSEA) was formed to provide safety training (Marine Safety Instructor-Training) to Alaska’s fishing communities. In 1991, the AMSEA developed a drill instructor course that focused on use of survival equipment and procedures on what to do if there is a vessel casualty. Between the years of 1991 and 2000, a total of 4,000 people were certified by AMSEA reducing the number of fishing vessel fatalities in Alaska (Dzugan, 2000). A study by the U.S. Coast Guard in 2000, found that those fishermen on vessels containing AMSEA trained drill instructors were 1.7 times more likely to survive a fishing vessel incident than vessels without trained individuals (Dzugan, 2000).

Problems with Training Program:

• NO required refresher course
• NOT all fishermen are required to take survival course
• NEED for additional programs globally

The prevalence of occupational injuries and fatalities in commercial fishing is a huge problem that needs to be resolved. Creating stricter policies regarding training, inspections, and safety programs will help enforce/ensure safety. Improving the statistics and databases on injury/fatal events will help us better understand the magnitude of the problem and see where prevention and control can be implemented.