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6 ways to fight fatigue when fishing

Anyone who has worked on a commercial fishing boat know they are signing up for long days of tough labor. Physical and mental fatigue can often seem unavoidable.

Still, that doesn't mean nothing can be done about it. Since fatigue is a factor in many commercial fishing accidents, making sure you are as alert as possible can be an important part of keeping yourself - and your crew - safe.

Here are six ways commercial fisherman can fight fatigue:

1. Watch what you eat and drink. Caffeine can be helpful in moderation, but you should also be drinking plenty of water. Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and lean protein, and try to avoid excessive sugar and fat, which can slow you down.

2. Wear the right amount of clothing so you're neither too hot nor too cold and don't need to spend extra energy warming yourself up or cooling yourself down. 

3. Seek out bright light during waking hours. This can be easier said than done during the winter, but even bright artificial light can help keep you awake. 

4. Liven up watches by talking to crew mates or listening to music. 

5. Get good sleep. If you can't get a lot of sleep, make the sleep you do get count. Avoid caffeine and heavy or spicy foods for three hours or so before bed. Keep your sleeping area as dark as possible, and take a few minutes to read or relax before bed.

6. Avoid alcohol and drugs. If you take prescription medications, talk to your doctor about avoiding any medications that will make you drowsy.

One of the very best things you can do, of course, is get at least seven hours of sleep at night - a goal that may be out of reach for many commercial fishermen. Still, captains should try to schedule shifts to allow crew members to get as close to this as possible.

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