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Let's Prevent Deaths from Falls Overboard

Commercial fishermen modeling a variety of personal flotation devices (PFDs).
Comfortable, work-friendly PFDs, suitable for every fishery are widely available.

Regular readers of this blog will know that wearing a PFD on deck is a frequent topic of discussion. Of course it is. Falls overboard are second only to vessel disasters as a cause of fishing related fatalities. But, it doesn't have to be that way.

With that in mind, we're happy to see Groundfish Forum executive director, United Fishermen of Alaska board member, and chairman of the Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Advisory Committee, Chris Woodley, amplify that message in the December issue of National Fisherman. In an opinion piece titled, Consequences: Let’s not go overboard, Chris points out that while the average number of fatalities is just shy of fourteen per year, many of those fishermen could have returned home safely, but for the lack of easily adopted safety-measures. Things like:

  • Wearing a PFD whenever on deck,

  • Practicing man overboard drills as required,

  • MOB recovery gear,

  • MOB alarms.

Chris goes farther and reminds vessel captains that they're responsible for the safety of their crews and that it's up to them to adopt and enforce these life saving measures. Read the whole piece for yourself. Chris raises good points and hopes to stimulate a broader conversation among fishermen on preventing deaths from falls overboard.


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