Between 2010 and 2014, 60 fishermen lost their lives in East Coast fisheries. The lobster fishery topped that dismal list with 10 fatalities. Half of those were falls overboard.

Overall, there were 109 vessel disasters along the East Coast. Eighteen of those resulted in the deaths of 22 fishermen. Falls overboard and deaths from onboard and onshore injuries accounted for the rest.

The East Coast’s 60 fatalities lead the nationwide 2010 to 2014 list, followed by the Gulf of Mexico with 49 fatalities, Alaska with 45 and the West Coast with 30.

That’s a lot of lost fishermen. Many of those deaths may have been avoided with better training, improved operational processes and better vessel safety features.

What would those changes look like?

That’s the question the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in partnership with the U.S. Coast Guard wants answered. To facilitate the development of those answers NIOSH and the Coast Guard are partnering up to make $6 million in grant funding available for commercial fishing safety research and training.

The funding will go to individuals in academia, businesses, municipalities or non-profit organization involved in commercial fishing and maritime industries. That could include the guy that’s been in the wheelhouse for years or the deckhand who is tired of seeing people hurt or killed and based on his experience thinks he’s got a couple of ideas to prevent those things from happening.

The Fishing Safety Research and Training Grants, which will be administered by NIOSH, provide up to 75 percent of the cost to complete a safety research program. They will range from $250,000 to $650,000 per grant over a two-year funding period.

You can view funding opportunities on the website. The research and training grant funding opportunities are listed as RFA-OH-19-004 and RFA-OH-19-005, respectively. The deadline to submit an application for both grants is February 21, 2019.

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Michael Crowley is the former Boats & Gear editor for National Fisherman.

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