From the Editor: Safety First

As anyone who’s worked on a fishing boat, or has spent a substantial amount of time around the commercial fishing industry knows, good safety practices are vital for a working vessel.

It should come as no surprise to regular readers of this magazine that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has long stated that commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations in the U.S.

“Many commercial fishing operations are characterized by hazardous working conditions, strenuous labor, long work hours and harsh weather,” a statement on NIOSH’s website declares.

The institute maintains the Commercial Fishing Incident Database (CFID), a surveillance system for workplace fatalities in the commercial fishing industry in the United States. And data from the database show that between the years 2000 and 2015, 725 commercial fishermen died while fishing in the U.S.

Nearly half of the fatalities (354, 49%) occurred after a vessel disaster, while another 221 (30%) occurred when a fisherman fell overboard, according to data. Another 87 fatalities (12%) resulted from an injury onboard, while the remaining 63 (9%) fatalities occurred while diving or from onshore injuries.

And with all this in mind, I hereby announce that in this issue of Fishermen’s News, we’re launching a monthly safety column that will offer tips, advice, and best practices and more regarding how to maintain good safety on and off commercial fishing boats.

Authoring the column will be staff members with the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association, or AMSEA.

For those not familiar with AMSEA, it’s a Sitka, Alaska-based 501(c)(3) non-profit whose mission is to reduce injury and death in the marine and freshwater environment through education and training provided by a network of marine safety instructors.

The organization, which has been offering marine safety training to commercial fishermen and thousands of other mariners since 1985, has a network of instructors based in port communities on Alaska, Pacific, Gulf and Atlantic coasts.

AMSEA’s 10-hour and 18-hour Drill Conductor courses are USCG accepted and meet requirements for fishermen onboard commercial fishing vessels. Classes are offered year-round in ports across the country.

Among its offerings are marine safety training for subsistence and recreational boaters, youth and women boaters, as well as contract classes for businesses, agencies and organizations. Marine safety instructor training is also an option for those interested in teaching.

Since 1985, AMSEA has trained over 200,000 people, including more than 1,600 AMSEA Instructors.

The organization’s first column, which begins on page 34 of this issue is on survival suits (aka immersion suits) and why the term “one size fits all” isn’t 100% accurate and how such suits actually only fit people who fall within certain height and weight ranges.

It’s a very informative read, please check it out.

And on behalf of the staff of Fishermen’s News, I’d like to officially welcome AMSEA to the Maritime Publishing family. We hope this is the beginning of a very long and rewarding partnership.

Managing Editor Mark Nero can be reached at