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This profile summarizes the common issues and duties for commercial fishing operations. It is impossible to predict all of the possible hazards a commercial fishing person may encounter. The demands can be sporadic and unpredictable with intermittent periods of intense physical and psychological stress. This summary focuses on the major job duties that most commercial fishing persons (those fishing primarily from a vessel on water) would have in common.
This document is not specific to enforcement/rescue, or diving operations. These occupations require specific training and qualifications beyond the general information provided here.
Main duties of a commercial fishing person include:
Commercial fishing is done in an extreme environment, and uses various types of equipment. Because the environment can change quickly, it is important to remain alert to any changes. Hazards include (but are not limited to):
All crew members show know how respond to a person overboard, fire on board, and flooding of the boat. Crew must also know how to abandon ship, and to call for help using any radios, phones, flares, or distress flag. All crew should also know the location and use of safety equipment, engine room components and controls, deck equipment and rigging, navigation equipment and electronic devices, safe use of fishing equipment, how to anchor the boat, and escape routes specific to that boat. Everyone on board the vessel should know where this equipment is stored, and how to use it. Learn exactly what specific requirements and regulations apply to your vessel.
Drills should be done at the beginning of the season, and anytime when new crew is on board. Drills can include how to abandon ship, deal with a situation (flood, fire, collision, etc.), how to put on the immersion suit, and how to rescue a person who fell overboard. Use of life jackets or personal flotation devices (PFDs) is required by law. Immersion suits are also recommended when working over cold water.
Falling overboard is a serious hazard. In addition, there are times when a person has to work suspended above the deck (aloft). When working on deck or aloft take the following precautions:
All workers should:
More information is available from:
(*We have mentioned these organizations as a means of providing a potentially useful referral. You should contact the organization(s) directly for more information about their services. Please note that mention of these organizations does not represent a recommendation or endorsement by CCOHS of these organizations over others of which you may be aware.)