Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Friday, 20 May 2011
The news of five clam diggers who died in Alaska's Cook Inlet this week is a sad reminder that whether you're aboard a 20-foot skiff, as these men were, or a 220-foot processor, you are taking certain risks by working at sea.
According to the Anchorage Daily News, three of the five men were wearing life vests when they were found. The president of Pacific Seafood, the Oregon-based seafood group they were contracted to work for, says the company provides safety training. However, that training is provided by the contractor who hires the workers. He could not say whether these workers had received training.
I find it especially concerning that the men were not Alaskans (and may not have been familiar with the terrain in which they were fishing) and that the company they worked for has not been able to provide a definitive record with respect to any safety training they may have received.
We write about safety gear all the time, but gear does you very little use without proper instruction.
Regardless of what caused the deaths of these five men, companies that employ fishermen ought to ensure that crew members are properly trained and can reckon with an emergency on the water.
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