Jes Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman magazine and NationalFisherman.com.
Thursday, 09 June 2011
On May 20, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health was mentioned in the Centers for Disease Control's list of the Ten Great Public Health Achievements for the last decade, specifically pointing to achievements by the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing Program.
A few months before that, the Obama administration threatened to pull NIOSH's funding from next year's budget.
This is not a time to be flip about maintaining the status quo with respect to federal earmarks, but there really is no appropriate time to pull the rug out from under a program that saves lives in the nation's deadliest profession.
"The Bering Sea crab fleet was the most dangerous fishery in the United States, period," says Keith Colburn, captain of the Wizard, co-star of "Deadliest Catch" and a spokesman for the Coast Guard's boating safety campaign. "The NIOSH office has opened a lot of people's eyes not only in crabbing but in all fisheries. Without their information and research, we are back in the stone ages. To me, it almost seems criminal to shut down an office in the United States that has a track record of success and provides quantifiable solid results on behalf of hardworking fishermen."
As early as June and July, the U.S. House and Senate, respectively, will begin the process of revising and finalizing their budgets.
Now is the time to talk to your representatives and let them know you want to keep funding for fishing safety research and development.
"As a research organization, we play a vital and unique role in protecting fishermen in that we identify an injury hazard in a particular fishery and work to mitigate the hazard," says Jennifer Lincoln, Ph.D., Injury Epidemiologist for the NIOSH Alaska Pacific Regional Office.
And you don't have to do much to be heard. Simply go to this site and enter your zip code. From there, you can launch contact forms for your representatives and write your own letter or use the copy provided here and send it online to any or all of your representatives on the Hill.
This is not simply a matter of balancing the budget. Funding for NIOSH helps save lives.
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