California’s Dungeness season this year got under way in snotty weather, much to the consternation of the fleet. Out they went to drop their pots at long last, and the weather had its way with them.

“So much of our research focuses on tracking and analyzing injuries and fatalities, we don’t often get to focus on the times that things go right,” said Ted Teske, a safety specialist for NIOSH in Spokane, Wash.

The harrowing start spurred reminders from the health and safety sector to try out PFDs made with deckwork in mind. Some of the folks at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recalled an incident from 2011. But this time it was a good story to tell, thanks to a crabber who strapped on his PFD in the midst of a rough bar crossing.

“So much of our research focuses on tracking and analyzing injuries and fatalities, we don’t often get to focus on the times that things go right,” said Ted Teske, a safety specialist for NIOSH in Spokane, Wash.

NIOSH created a video called “Fishing Safety Success Story: My Life Vest Saved Me,” based on Stan Jones’ survival story. The video includes an interview with Stan’s son Rocky, who witnessed the accident.

“The next thing I know, he’s going over with the pot,” says Rocky Jones. “And I had one hand on the crab pot, and I held it for five seconds, just so it wouldn’t go down on top of him… As soon as I released, I ran into the house, yelling man overboard.”

“I was sinking like a rock,” says Stan Jones. “I didn’t think I was going to go back up to the surface. I had made peace with it… I thought I was a goner. Then out of nowhere, my life vest went into action. And it just floated me right up to the surface.”

“We wanted to focus on these stories to show people in the industry that adopting safe practices and technologies is a way to keep themselves and their crew safe in one of the nation’s most dangerous jobs,” Teske added.

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 14 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute's Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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