Updated: May 13
Nearly every AMSEA class covers the importance of wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) while on deck. AMSEA instructors have delivered this message to tens of thousands of commercial fishermen and on every US coast. Despite that message (and the same message from many others) commercial fishermen who consistently wear a PFD on deck remain the exception, not the rule.
Alaska commercial fisherman and PhD researcher, Jennifer Pickett, would like to know why. She is surveying commercial fishermen to learn how they feel about wearing PFDs while they fish.
Between 2000 and 2014, 210 US fishermen died from falls overboard and not one was wearing a PFD. As Pickett says on her blog, "There is no shortage of research stating these statistics. However, there is a shortage of research stating why fishermen are not wearing PFDs at sea. This study aims to fill that gap by understanding fishermen’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors in general and in regards to wearing PFDs at sea."
Pickett has fished Alaskan waters since 1992, in the halibut, herring, and salmon fisheries. She has captained her own boat, gillnetting for salmon in Prince William Sound.
Currently, Pickett is earning her PhD at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium and University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Her work focuses on personality and employee well-being.
From her blog, PickFish Tales: "Generally, I study personality and work and organizational psychology. In other words, I study the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of employees at work. This specific research study is on commercial or professional fishermen, their personality and habits of wearing a PFD at sea. They say to research what you know!"