Louisiana is home to many commercial fishermen. Fishing, from shrimp boats to oystering to catching snapper and grouper, is highly important to the economy of the state. But it’s also highly dangerous for the men and women who do it.
Fatality Rates for Commercial Fisherman: 29 Times Higher than the National Average
In fact, the death rate on the job for commercial fisherman is an astounding 29 times higher than the average of occupational-related deaths across the country.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), an arm of the United States government, ranks commercial fishing as among the most hazardous occupations in the country.
In the most recent U.S. report, the greatest threats to the life and safety of commercial fisherman in 2015 were vessel disasters, falls overboard, and machinery that was on the deck.
In Louisiana alone, the occupational category that includes fishing had the highest fatal injury rate of any occupational category in 2015. It was 27.9. In comparison, the average fatal injury rate among all occupations in our state was only 5.8. In other words, it’s more than 4 times as high for fishing.
Hazardous Conditions Contribute to Fisherman Fatalities
Commercial fishermen work in hazardous conditions, with harsh and even violent weather and long hours. They face slippery surfaces. The manual labor involved is hard. They are often alone. Deaths from falls overboard, for example, often occur when the fisherman is the only person in the vessel or the only person on deck.
From those conditions come seafood eaten across the United States. Nearly 10 billion pounds of seafood were caught or trapped across the country in 2015. The industry as a whole earned more than $5.2 billion, employing 115,000 people.
But the seafood comes at a price. In the 15 years from 2000 to 2015, an average of 42 fatalities occurred among commercial fishermen every year nationwide. That’s an average of 117 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared with an average of 4 per 100,000 workers for deaths from all occupations.
Nationwide, nearly half of commercial fishing deaths occur after a vessel disaster, with another 30% from falls overboard. Twelve percent of fatalities are caused from onboard injuries, and 9% occur as a result of diving or onshore injuries.
In the Gulf of Mexico states alone, the shrimp fleet was responsible for half of all deaths in the period.
Injured? Contact an Experienced Louisiana Maritime Attorney
In Louisiana, we love our waterways. They are central to Louisiana identity and life. But if you work in commercial fishing and have been injured, or a loved one has been injured or killed while engaged in commercial fishing, know that there is help for you and that justice is not out of reach.
Our maritime attorneys have dedicated themselves to the rights of commercial fishing boat workers. Bart Bernard Injury Lawyers has offices in both Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana. We assist both people who are residents of our communities and out-of-state residents who need advice on Louisiana maritime law.
Our initial consultation on your case is free. Call today to speak with a Lafayette or Baton Rouge commercial fishing boat accident lawyer and learn about your legal options for monetary compensation.
More On the Dangers of Commercial Fishing:
- Fisk Marine Insurance International. Did You Know Commercial Fishing Is the Most Dangerous Job in the U.S.? https://fiskusa.com/blog/commercial-boat/did-you-know-commercial-fishing-is-the-most-dangerous-job-in-the-u-s/
- United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities. Fatal Occupational Injury Rates by Industry, 2015, Louisiana. https://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/cfoi/rate2015la.htm.
- United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Workplace Safety and Health Topics. Commercial Fishing Safety. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/fishing/