Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Friday, 08 April 2011
With the federal government on the verge of a shutdown, budget cuts are looming over every national agency.
Unfortunately, a positive review of the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety landed its Commercial Fishing Safety Research Program on the chopping block for 2012.
As Gunnar Knapp, economics professor at the University of Alaska in Anchorage, pointed out in his op-ed for the Anchorage Daily News this week, cutting this program at a time when its effectiveness is most apparent is dangerously counterintuitive.
Fishing is still the deadliest profession in this country, but safety research has improved the survival rates of American fishermen over the last 20 years.
The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 put into effect stricter standards for skippers of large vessels and tightened requirements for dockside exams.
I don't discount the value of dockside exams. But I can't comprehend how we can find funding for more exams and coursework for skippers but not for a national safety-at-sea research program.
We need to do everything we can to keep fishermen alive at sea and continue to improve our national safety record in the industry.
If you want to help preserve NIOSH and fishermen's lives, make a phone call or write a letter to your members of Congress.
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