Offshore InjuryBlog

Recent Sinking of Commercial Fishing Vessel Emphasizes the Hazards of the Job

The recent sinking of a South Korean trawler, a commercial fishing boat, in the frigid waters of the western Bering Sea emphasizes one of the many hazards of commercial fishing. Rescuers worked diligently searching for the 50 crew members. Seven survivors were rescued and one dead crewman was pulled from the waters. Many crewmembers remain missing.

It was reported that the 1,753-ton trawler Oryong 501 sank off the coast of the Chukotka region in northeast Russia after a wave hit as the crew was hauling in its catch of pollock fish. Water flooded the boat's storage chambers, sinking the vessel and costing the lives of some of the crew on board.

The surviving crew members were rescued from a life raft. It is believed that the other crew members put on life jackets and jumped into the sea, which had a temperature of just 14 degrees. The body's ability to survive in freezing water is limited, even with immersion suits.

As a result, crew members must be trained to recognize when they need help and be able to take the steps necessary to put themselves in a position where rescue efforts can quickly and safely bring them home to their families without serious injury. It is vital that they are also equipped with proper safety equipment and have been given proper training for handling emergency situations. Without access to these essential items, serious injury or fatalities can result.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), commercial fishing in Alaska is one of the most hazardous jobs in the nation. NIOSH reports that there have been nearly 100 worker fatalities in the commercial fishing industry in the past three years. Anyone considering this type of work must be informed of the serious risks they face, including a vessel sinking in freezing cold waters.

Every fishing vessel must be equipped with the following safety equipment:

  • Life rafts
  • Survival suits
  • EPIRB [emergency position-indicating radio beacon]

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as a result of the sinking of a commercial fishing vessel, the attorneys of Arnold & Itkin are here to help. We have extensive experience assisting injured crewman and the families of those crewmen who have lost their lives in freezing waters. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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