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There is romance in the fishing industry and dangers, too

Fishing season is year-round along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana, promising catches that get shipped around the world. Right now, commercial fishermen are in the midst of fish and crab season, searching for blue crab and doing their best to catch drum, snapper, grouper and speckled trout. With the recent closure of brown shrimp season, fishermen will have to wait until mid-August for the opening of white shrimp season.

Maybe there is romance in the fishing industry due to the adventure and the tasty catches, but remember that commercial fishermen have experienced difficult times during the COVID-19 pandemic. And they work in one of the most dangerous industries, where work-related injuries are common and death a possibility.

Shrimp, snapper/grouper and oyster fleets

A total of 49 deaths were reported among fishing fleets in the Gulf of Mexico from 2010 to 2014, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Three fleets accounted for 38 of the deaths or nearly 78% of the fatalities. They were the:

  • Shrimp fleet with 25 fatalities: nine vessel disasters, six falls overboard, eight onboard fatalities and two diving deaths
  • Snapper/grouper fleet with nine fatalities: five vessel disasters, three falls overboard and one onboard fatality
  • Oyster fleet with four fatalities: two from vessel disasters and two falls overboard

The workplace hazards faced by commercial fishermen are many. Serious injuries include traumatic brain injury, fractures and losses of limbs, any of which can end a commercial fisherman’s career. And a number of common injuries surface such as those to the neck, wrist, lower back and shoulder.