Article Category: AMSEA

Fishing as a Contact Sport

Fishing as a Contact Sport

Anyone who has spent time on a boat knows that bumps and bruises are inevitable. You can be standing there minding your own business and the boat gets jostled by a wave. Next thing you know, you’re banging up against sharp, pointy things or unyielding wood or metal. That’s just a part of being at sea. However, serious injuries can happen when a crew member comes into contact with the vessel, fishing gear, or equipment. Common injury hazards include getting hit or struck by a moving object, entangling with fishing lines, or caught in a running equipment such as a winch or seafood processing equipment. The working environment on a fishing vessel is never static, not even on the dock. For instance, a crew member can bump into a vessel structure (e.g., door frame, stairway railing) or fis...
Slips, Trips & Falls: Don’t Fall for It

Slips, Trips & Falls: Don’t Fall for It

Humans can be amazing. Most of us can stand upright on two feet, walk and move around easily, even gracefully sometimes. It gets harder to walk and do your work when you are out on a rain-soaked dock or moving vessel. There may be gear or equipment to navigate around. There may be steps or ladders to get from one level to another or from the dock to the vessel. There may be something on the working surface that makes it slippery—rain, ice, saltwater, hydraulic fluid, fish or bait. Not to mention that when you are working on deck, there is fishing gear, tools and equipment in motion and coordination of movement with other fishermen, their gear or activities. There’s also the weather and sea conditions. By reviewing the reported injury information for Oregon and Washington commercial fis...
Operational Stability—Stay Upright and Watertight

Operational Stability—Stay Upright and Watertight

Continuing our series on fishing vessel stability, this month’s article focuses on operational stability and offers some tools to help the folks on board keep things ‘Upright and Watertight.’ In the previous two articles we covered the importance of stability training: fishing vessel-specific-training, and which vessels and at what thresholds do stability regulations apply.  Now, you put your vessel to use. The decisions made by the skipper, engineer and crew, combined with the physical forces of nature, make for a complex and dynamic scene that if allowed to get out of hand, can cause catastrophe. Here are some ways to mitigate the risks while at sea. Maintain Watertightness Keep doors and hatches always secured except while using them. If the manually operated six-dog door is too muc...
Fishing Vessel Stability Requirements—Adding Clarity to the Murky Applicability

Fishing Vessel Stability Requirements—Adding Clarity to the Murky Applicability

This is the second article in a three-part series on the topic of fishing vessel stability. Last month’s column covered awareness and training and next month’s will address operational stability and how the use of a vessel can drastically affect its stability. But this issue’s article focuses on regulations and requirements and how some in the industry and even the Coast Guard, fail to recognize when they apply. What, When, Who? – Does This Apply to Me? When it comes to commercial fishing industry vessels 79 feet or greater (that are not required to have a load line), the stability rules are within 46 Code of Federal Regulations Part 28, Subpart E (Stability). You can look up those on your own if you want to read it word for word.  They are most helpful if you are having difficulty fa...
Stability Awareness — Are You Aware?

Stability Awareness — Are You Aware?

Fishing vessel stability is often characterized in foreign and misunderstood terms that describe the constantly changing forces that act upon a vessel while it is at sea. The wind and waves provide the motion as the vessel rolls, pitches, yaws, heaves, sways and surges. The burning of fuel and use of water changes the internal weights of the vessel and introduces an additional force of free surface effect. The skipper and crew working hard to move equipment, launch fishing gear, tow nets, haul back the catch, dump it on deck and into the holds adds even more complexity. That’s a lot of dynamic forces going on for a craft at sea. Add in that fishing vessels are what the Coast Guard considers “uninspected,” so there is ambiguity to what standards, if any, need to be followed, which regu...
Why Do I Need to Do Emergency Drills with My Crew?

Why Do I Need to Do Emergency Drills with My Crew?

Because you never know how your day is going to end, emergency drills are required to be conducted monthly on many fishing vessels during the season. Even if they are not required on your vessel, drills are a standard in the industry. In the event of a casualty, not conducting drills is a poor defense. Without regular drills, in an emergency the crew will be looking to the master to answer the big question: what do we do? Meanwhile, the master of the vessel is flooded with sensory information that is incomplete or unknown as well as dealing with conflicting emotions and the weight of responsibility for dealing with the emergency. This is not the best state of mind for someone to make the correct decision. A crew that is not trained in what to do makes it even more difficult for the ma...
Fishing for Sleep

Fishing for Sleep

Getting enough high-quality sleep on a vessel is inherently difficult. The vessel has motion, noises, smells, is cramped and there is little privacy. There also can be lots to worry about. At times it’s a tense environment with lots of unknowns and demands, especially for those in positions of greater responsibility. Despite the fact that we spend 33% of our lives sleeping, it’s only in the last few decades of research that we have learned much about its impact in every aspect of our health, performance and safety. Hundreds of studies from all over the world have demonstrated that being sleep deprived negatively affects every system in the body. People who are chronically sleep deprived have shorter lifespans due to cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and many other health disorde...
Use Ergonomics to Prevent Pains, Strains & Chronic Lames

Use Ergonomics to Prevent Pains, Strains & Chronic Lames

Ergonomics is about adapting the workplace and tools to fit you better, so that you have less strain and chronic pain. After interviewing 426 fishermen on the West Coast in 2015, the Fisherman Led Injury Prevention Program at Oregon State University learned that sprains and strains were the most common limiting injuries, with handling gear on deck the most common cause. For over 30 years Alaska Fishermen’s Fund data has demonstrated that muscular skeletal disorders are the main source of insurance claims. When fishermen think about inherent risks, we usually think of things like weather, loading our vessels, handling gear, etc. But the risks to our bodies from repetitive motion, strain on the back, lifting and other forces cause injury over time and can lead to chronic muscular/skeleta...
Upright and Watertight!

Upright and Watertight!

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, between 2015 and 2019, there were 124 commercial fishing fatalities in the U.S. Of these fatalities, 57% were due to the loss of the vessel itself, and the vast majority of those losses were due to the fact that the vessel lost its watertight integrity. A well-designed and maintained vessel provides an excellent platform to protect you from a hostile environment, get you from here to there and to provide a means for making a living. Yet a vessel is only as good as its watertight envelope.     Maintenance tip: conduct regular out-of-water critical inspections of the hull, through hull fittings, packing glands, cutless bearing, prop, shaft, zincs and paint. Inside the hull, inspect to see that through hull valves/se...
Maintaining Your Immersion Suit

Maintaining Your Immersion Suit

Protect yourself and your crew by inspecting and maintaining your survival suits regularly Immersion suits have saved thousands of fishermen’s lives. Most fishing vessels on the West Coast and Alaska are required to carry them. They are your “parachute” if staying on the vessel is more dangerous than being in the water, but survival suits need attention and care. After the sinking of the F/V Wayward Wind, a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation revealed that corroded zippers on immersion suits most likely contributed to the deaths of three crewmembers. The suits were not fully zipped, allowing cold water to flush in and out. Inflation bladders were not attached to all of the suits and none had lights. The NTSB concluded that the crewmembers may have survived if the su...