Safety Education Opportunities in Commercial Fisheries

  • Tweed, Stewart

Commercial fishing is one of the nation's most dangerous occupations. The need for safety training programs and adoption of improved safety procedures led to passage of the Vessel Safety Act of 1988 and adoption of Coast Guard Commercial Fishing Vessel Regulations (46 CFR Part 28).

New Jersey fishermen have had a poor record of participation in voluntary education programs. Fishing schedule conflicts and lack of federal standards have often been cited as the reason for their non-participation. The new Federal regulations addressed these concerns and established standards and a timetable for their adoption. These standards included safety gear specific for vessel and fishing activity, crew member training, documented safety drills and vessel stability tests.

These mandated requirements provided an opportunity for New Jersey Sea Grant to respond to the educational needs of the industry. Personal contacts and presentations to fishermen groups were used to alert the industry to federal requirements. Educational programs to meet the industry's needs were coordinated with other Sea Grant programs, Coast Guard personnel and gear manufacturers. Programs included safety training presentations, preparation and dissemination of fact sheets, newsletter articles, computer identification of safety equipment and community involvement in training programs. Over 250 fishermen participated in programs and 53 received the required CPR and First Aid training.

Sea Grant Agents are attempting to coordinate the training necessary for the next level of compliance that will require onboard drills of safety gear and procedures by September, 1994.

This research abstract was extracted from a portion of the proceedings of "Agricultural Safety and Health: Detection, Prevention and Intervention," a conference presented by the Ohio State University and the Ohio Department of Health, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control/National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

S. M. Tweed, Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County, Cape May Court House, NJ.

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