By: Gregg Kleiner and Tiffany Woods
The effort is part of the Fishermen Led Injury Prevention Program, which was funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
“The ideas are generated by the fishermen, and the goal is that the solutions are voluntarily embraced and are not imposed,” said Laurel Kincl, the leader of the project and an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences.
To gather the suggestions as well as build rapport with the fishermen, nine community members with ties to the fishing industry were contracted, including several fishermen’s wives.
As part of the project, in the fall of 2015, the nine community members surveyed 365 crabbers in Washington,
When asked what they thought contributed most to injuries, fishermen gave answers that included not paying attention, weather and sea conditions, inexperience, unsafe vessels or gear, a lack of training, and poor physical shape. When asked what they thought was the most important thing for staying safe, responses included having a good captain and crew, being aware, taking care of oneself, avoiding fatigue and having a well-maintained boat and gear.
Fishermen suggested the need for a fishing-specific first aid and CPR course. As a result, a wilderness medicine expert was invited to the Oregon towns of Newport and Astoria in the fall of 2016 to train fishermen on how to treat medical conditions and at-sea injuries such as cuts, broken bones, dislocated shoulders and hypothermia.
Another fisherman suggested looking at the design of banger bars, which are metal bars that are welded to the tables where crabs are sorted. Crab pots are hoisted over and slammed against the bars to force the crabs onto the table.
“Some say the bars make it easier on fishermen’s wrists and backs if positioned correctly,” said
The research team is considering using fishermen-focused Facebook pages, like the Oregon Sea Grant Fisheries Extension Facebook page, to ask for information about the use,
Also because of fishermen’s feedback, Jacobson and the nine community members will interview experienced deckhands and boat captains about what makes a good crew, how to size up a boat to see if it’s safe, and what safety-related language fishermen should look for when signing a contract to become a crew member. Jacobson and her team plan to share this information with novice or aspiring crewmembers.
“We’ll put these findings in an infographic or factsheet that we’ll post on social media or mail out so that fishermen looking for work can have that resource,” she said.
During the 2015–16 season, fishermen in Oregon landed just over 14 million pounds of Dungeness crab, which they sold for a record $51 million, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Dubbed the official state crustacean, Dungeness crabs make up the most valuable single-species commercial fishery in Oregon.