One fisherman has died and two others are missing after their 81-foot fishing vessel collided with a 600-foot chemical tanker off the coast of Galveston. The 81-foot fishing vessel Pappy’s Pride capsized after the crash, sending four of its crewmen overboard.
Two crew members were rescued from the water; of those rescued, one fisherman was unresponsive and was later pronounced dead. After a week, the U.S. Coast Guard called off its search for the two missing crewmembers.
Commercial Fishing Hazards
The commercial fishing industry is one of the most dangerous occupations in the country. The industry sees a fatality rate 29 times higher than the national average for other industries. Working conditions often include exposure to extreme weather, intense work hours, and vulnerable machinery. While the dangers of commercial fishing – as well as other maritime-related jobs – are widely known, safety should not be overlooked.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on the commercial fishing industry that found 725 commercial fishermen had lost their lives while on the job over a 15-year span. This figure averages out to about 42 deaths annually, a startling statistic compared to the average four annual deaths (per 100,000 U.S. workers) in other industries. Nearly half of all 725 deaths occurred as the result of a vessel disaster.
What is a ‘Vessel Disaster’?
A vessel disaster is any event that forces a crew to abandon its ship. This could include a vessel sinking, capsizing, or colliding with another vessel. The leading causes of vessel disasters are:
- Collisions with another vessel
- Allisions (colliding with a stationary object)
- Vessel instability
With so many potential dangers, it is important that vessels be adequately staffed and prepared for potential disaster. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends all fishermen should retake a maritime safety course at least once every five years to stay updated on current safety techniques.
Fishermen’s Right to a Safe Work Environment
While fishermen should heed the advice of NIOSH and stay up to date on safety training, every worker has the right to safe working conditions provided by their employer, whether on land or at sea. In the commercial fishing and maritime industries, this could mean the difference between life and death.
Safety in the Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a bustling home for many industries. With some of the largest ports in the world, oilrigs, and commercial fishing, thousands of workers encounter dangers associated with maritime-related occupations daily.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the Gulf of Mexico saw 116 commercial fishing deaths as a result of traumatic injuries on the job from 2010 through 2014. Falling overboard was the top threat to seamen. Federal law requires commercial vessels to comply with minimum safety requirements to protect crewmembers. These standards include proving adequate lifesaving equipment, such as ring lifebuoys, life preservers, and life rafts in the case of a crewman falling overboard or the crew having to abandon ship.
In addition to providing proper safety equipment, maritime employers must also regularly inspect and maintain the vessel and its life-saving equipment.
Maritime Accident Attorneys
Maritime accidents are uncharted waters for many, and require the attention of an experienced offshore injury attorney. If you or a loved one was injured or killed as the result of a maritime accident, we can help. The trial attorneys at Dax F. Garza, P.C. will fight to protect your rights and pursue compensation for your injuries and losses. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.