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Risk of death in commercial fishing, part 1: Dungeon Cove

Commercial fishing in ocean waters has long been known as one of most dangerous jobs in the world.

The reputation is well deserved and widely confirmed by research studies.

In this two-part post, we will review recent data on fatal work injuries in commercial fishing, as well as efforts to prevent injuries and deaths through improved safety.

Deadliest Catch, the much-viewed reality TV series about crab fishing in the Bering Sea and the Pacific Ocean, is now in its 13th season. The title for the show is all too real. This year, in a segment called "Dungeon Cove," four fishing workers lost their lives.

Three of those deaths occurred in late January when a bad storm took down a vessel called the Eagle III. A fourth crew member also lost his life, bringing the death toll for the "Dungeon Cove" series to four.

These deaths are a vivid reminder of how dangerous crab fishing is. Remote areas of the Bering Sea are by no means the only places death can strike. Death can also occur off of Oregon (as it did on "Dungeon Cove), Washington, California or elsewhere.

Research shows how the risk of death in commercial fishing compares to other jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 22 people lost their lives due to fishing and fishing-related injuries in 2014. Commercial fishing workers had the second highest death-rate of any civilian job, behind only loggers

In part two of this post, we will discuss efforts being made to improve safety and reduce the risks to fishermen.

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