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Wednesday, September 22, 2010 at 1:31 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C — Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. From 1992 to 2008, an annual average of 58 reported deaths occurred (128 deaths per 100,000 workers), compared with an average of 5,894 deaths (four per 100,000 workers) among all U.S. workers.

“Increasing industry awareness and use of PFDs (including new styles that are integrated into work clothes) and fall-overboard alarms likely would reduce the risk for death,” said Jennifer Lincoln, author of the Centers for Disease Control report.

The heavy toll of fishermen lost in the Alaskan fisheries during the 1990s was substantially reduced, Ms. Lincoln said, through of a variety of “safety interventions” including fishery-specific regulations and training.

“Further safety interventions should be tailored to other fisheries across the country with an emphasis on the prevention of vessel disasters in the Northeast multispecies groundfish fishery, the Northeast scallop fleet, and the West Coast Dungeness crab fleet,” Ms. Lincoln wrote. In addition, she encouraged greater efforts to increase PFD usage among fishermen. PFD stands for “personal flotation device,” which are lifejackets.

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