Updated: Nov 9, 2022
The US Coast Guard District 17 commercial fishing vessel safety office reported that 2022 was a fatality-free commercial fishing season. This is a big deal! Alaska's commercial fishermen should be proud. The waters haven't been calm and the fisheries haven't been risk-free, but fishermen have made safety-conscious decisions and been prepared for at-sea disasters.
Thanks to the USCG, other mariners, and commercial fishermen's actions, fishing vessel disasters from this past season have not been deadly. In fact, over the last 30 years, Alaska has seen a downward trend in commercial fishing vessel fatalities. NIOSH reported a 73% decrease in death due to traumatic events from 1990-2014. While NIOSH's report only goes through 2014, the USCG District 17 commercial fishing vessel safety office reported that 2015 was the only other zero-fatality season. These trends are worth celebrating. They are not just a coincidence but the result of hard work, training, and new technology.
Alaskan fishermen must meet safety criteria designed to provide vessels and crew with strategies and resources for at-sea disasters. Vessels are required to have a USCG dockside exam decal on their boat, which expires every two years. These dockside exams are performed for free and are mandatory to renew every five years.
Alaskan captains have to be certified drill conductors and perform monthly at-sea drills with their crew. AMSEA's hands-on drill conductor training is proven to save lives, so AMSEA offers certification classes across Alaska's coast. AMSEA's drill conductor course covers a range of vessel disasters including flooding, fires, man overboard, and abandon ship scenarios to prepare mariners for the unexpected. These classes give mariners the knowledge and muscle memory to act effectively and efficiently during the marine disasters they may encounter.
Hopefully, most mariners haven't and won't face the numerous disasters that await the unsuspecting mariner. With the help of marine safety training, excellent USCG rescue teams, and up-to-date boat maintenance, mariners continue to be better prepared for the hazards of their occupation. Let's continue to make the Alaskan fisheries an example for the rest of the world in navigating the waters as safely as possible.