Sea Grant Extension's safety training saves fishermen's lives
More than 500 crewmembers have completed the classes since 1991
Eighty-six commercial fishermen died on the job in Washington, Oregon and California between 2000 and 2009. Almost 70 percent drowned following a disaster that forced them to abandon ship. The Dungeness crab sector saw the highest number with 27 fatalities. That's tragic news for Oregon's 325-boat crab fleet, which hauled in $42.1 million of the crustacean in the 2011-2012 season.
In hopes of avoiding such deaths, Oregon Sea Grant Extension, in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard, offers free emergency training to commercial fishermen. These hands-on classes, complete with artificial smoke, teach participants how to put on survival suits to guard against hypothermia, jump into the water, enter a life raft, fight a fire, stop leaks, and shoot off flares. Graduates of the training are qualified to run Coast Guard-required safety drills on their own vessels.
Oregon's commercial fishing industry employed nearly 1,800 people and landed $125 million of fish and shellfish in 2012.
Sources: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission; Oregon Employment Department; Kaety Hildenbrand, marine fisheries educator with OSU's Oregon Sea Grant Extension.