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How Fishing Off Of Northwest Coast Is Considered Deadliest Job

By Nikki Weingartner     May 13, 2008 in Lifestyle
Coastal fishing is more than just a past time for many. Its a life. But in areas off the Northwestern coast, it may be considered the most dangerous occupation of all, with the fatality rate more than doubling compared to other jobs in the United States.
If you haven't watched it yet, Deadliest Catch on Discovery Channel can be all encapsulating with its on board excitement, money pools and antics between crews all with a common goal: to bring home the largest numbers of crab and split the money between crew members.
The real catch is that the crew is at extreme risk each time it goes out, battling rogue waves and extreme temperatures that will bury a man forever if they aren't rescued within just 3 minutes of going overboard.
But its all reality television, right? Wrong!
As reported today, crabbing off the Northwestern coast of the United States may actually be the deadliest of all.
In graphs depicting multiple comparisons of occupational hazards and death rates in certain areas at certain times, all arrows point to the upper left hand corner of the country in terms of death rates and commercial fishing.
Death rates by occupation show the number of death compared to deaths of all fishermen annually to be more than double the number off the Pacific Coast, specifically California, Oregon and Washington state. From 2000-2006, 43 of those deaths were from the loss of ships, and nearly 80 percent of those due to weather related issues.
As the Coast Guard only sets out to try and rescue those aboard sinking vessels, prevention is not a priority and up to the boat's captain and crew themselves. According to the news article:
Twenty-three boats capsized in that six-year period, resulting in 43 deaths, and none of these people were able to enter a functioning life raft. Just three of the lost boats had valid safety decals from the Coast Guard’s voluntary dockside safety examination.
However, according to the CDC's media relations report:
When determining why they did not enter a life raft, we found that sometimes there was no life raft available. And in other instances, the life raft malfunctioned and sometimes people just simply weren't able to reach the raft once it had deployed. We also reviewed the dockside exam status of these vessels that sank. A dockside safety exam reviews the safety equipment that is required to be on board the particular vessel.
It's a tool that the U.S. Coast Guard uses to promote the safety in the fleet. Three of the 23 vessels had a current U.S. Coast Guard dockside safety exam decal. Another three had expired decals, meaning that their exam had taken place more than two years from the event. However, 12 vessels did not have a decal and may have never participated in the safety exam program.
And if the question came to mind why these guys pursue such a risky profession? For an average of $250,000 USD annual salary compared to the under $30,000 USD annual salary the average commercial fisherman brings in, the reported risks are obviously worth the incredible money making this the deadliest salary.
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