National Fisherman


Boats & Gear 

Michael CrowleyThe Boats & Gear blog is overseen by our Boats & Gear editor, Michael Crowley. It explores new construction projects, electronics, gear and equipment for the commercial fishing industry.

There are all sorts of ways to be killed or injured on a fishing boat. Most of them are preventable. One type of injury that seems the most avoidable is machinery related: You are working on equipment when someone turns it on and your body parts are crushed or cut off, or you are electrocuted.

Avoiding this is smart for all parties concerned. It’s smart for you because you are still intact and functioning. And it is smart for the boat owner because he isn’t being hauled into court, where the damages can be notable. The Web site for one group of attorneys who obviously go after this type of case says they won a decision for $2.5 million for a fisherman who lost a hand because a machine didn’t have the proper guard on it.

I’m betting the fisherman would rather have his hand. And I’m betting the guy who started the engine on a boat a few years ago in Kodiak wishes he hadn’t. A diver was working on the boat’s prop. He was killed.

It happened again at the end of March on the factory trawler Ocean Peace, which was near Adak, an island in Alaska’s Aleutian chain, 450 miles west of Dutch Harbor. Joemar Lontoc was cleaning a fish-processing machine. When the machine was turned on, he almost lost a hand and had to be airlifted off the boat.

The way to avoid this kind of accident is not complicated: First, shut off all power to whatever it is you are working on; second, make sure everyone on the boat knows power isn’t to be activated to that piece of equipment.

The best way to do this is with a Lockout/Tagout program. As the name says, you put a lock on the power source to physically prevent someone from operating a switch, key or lever. The tag that accompanies the lock has your name on it and when the power was shut off.

Jennifer Lincoln with NIOSH in Anchorage, Alaska, and Jensen Maritime Consultants in Seattle, Wash., developed a handout explaining how Lockout/Tagout works.

Inside the Industry

The following was released by the Maine Department of Marine Resources on Jan. 22:

The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced an emergency regulation that will support the continued rebuilding effort in Maine’s scallop fishery. The rule, effective January 23, 2016, will close the Muscle Ridge Area near South Thomaston and the Western Penobscot Bay Area.

Read more...

Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, which governs commercial and recreational fishing in the state, got a new boss in January. Charlie Melancon, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislator, was appointed to the job by the state’s new governor, John Bel Edwards.

Although much of his non-political work in the past has centered on the state’s sugar cane industry, Melancon said he is confident that other experience, including working closely with fishermen when in Congress, has prepared him well for this new challenge.

Read more...
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