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Survey: Alternative PFDs Find Acceptance Among Bristol Bay Fishermen

In 2019, AMSEA distributed 74 Stormline™rain bibs with built-in flotation and Kent Safety Products Rogue™ vests to commercial fishermen attending Fishing Vessel Drill Conductor classes in Dillingham, Naknek and Togiak, Alaska. Both are non-Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices. Fishermen in these communities participate in Alaska's Bristol Bay gillnet salmon fishery. The following year, fishermen that received PFDs were surveyed to assess their usage of the PFDs and to receive feedback on the pros and cons wearing these devices.

Fourteen individuals who received a PFD responded to the survey. The survey response rate was 25%, and thirteen of the fourteen respondents, or 93% wore the PFDs some or all of the time. A previous survey conducted by NIOSH distributed PFDs to Bristol Bay commercial fishermen. However, of the 96 respondents, fewer than 45% said that they ever wore PFDs.

The current effort is admittedly a small survey and clearly, there is more work to be done to promote PFD usage among Bristol Bay fishermen and commercial fishermen everywhere. However, the usage rate in this survey is a hopeful sign that more commercial fishermen find newer, alternative PFDs wearable when working and recognize the safety factor that a PFD gives them if they do fall overboard.

PFD distribution for this project was funded by Alaska Sea Grant and support for the follow up survey was provided by the University of Washington and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. You can read the full survey report here and a slide deck here.


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