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Fishing-related deaths in Alaska dropped 57% between 2013 and 2022, according to a presentation by Richie Evoy and Samantha Case on Thursday at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting.

Thus, this type of fatalities in Alaska, United States, dropped 57% between 2013 and 2022, according to a presentation Thursday at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Anchorage.

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According to a presentation by Samantha Case and Richie Evoy, epidemiologists with the Alaska National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the 88 fishing deaths between 2013 and 2022 are a reduction.

Evoy explained to the Council that the decrease in the number of deaths in Alaska mirrors the national trend, where despite fluctuations, the fishing fatality rate has decreased by about 42% since 2009.

According to the presentation, Evoy explained that it was a “pretty promising” achievement, but it was still dangerous work. “Commercial fishing continues to experience fatality rates at a much higher rate than a lot of other occupations in the U.S.,” said Evoy. “This essentially means that commercial fishing is still one of the most hazardous occupations in the country.”

Fishermen in Alaska: a hazardous job

Between 2013 and 2022, about one-third of recorded casualties were due to vessel disasters. Twenty-eight percent from accidents on board, 23% from falls overboard, 12% from shore-based activities, and 5% during dive fishing, Evoy told the council.

Therefore, Case and Evoy explained in their presentation that since marine disasters are the major cause of fishing mortality in Alaska, it is useful to consider the related risk factors.

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Referring to these patterns, Case mentioned a study conducted by her and published in 2020. The main problem according to Case came from the vessels. According to Case, vessels that had suffered a casualty in the previous 10 years were three times more susceptible to being involved in catastrophes.

Interestingly, it had nothing to do due to the age of the vessels.  The study concluded that vessels older than 25 years were not more likely to suffer accidents or catastrophes than newer vessels, but rather to have had one in the past.

In addition, the study revealed that steel-hulled vessels were more than three times as likely to suffer a disaster. Although more than the material, she explained, this could be due to the fishing practice, as these vessels tend to be larger and operate farther from the coast or in harsh winter conditions.

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