So You Want to go Commercial Fishing in Alaska — Here’s What You Need to Know  

It’s the time of the year when those with dreams of working on a commercial fishing boat in Alaska set out to try to make that dream come true. If you’re among their numbers, you’re no doubt the adventurous type, and if you’re one of the lucky few to hire on with a fishing vessel, you’ll gain an experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life. However, not everyone succeeds at this venture, and it can be a dangerous way to make a living.

Commercial Fishing in Alaska is Getting Safer

Commercial fishing has long had the dubious designation of being the most dangerous job in the country. However, Increased regulations, improvements in equipment, and awareness of best practices concerning safety have combined to result in substantial decreases in the death toll among commercial fishermen in Alaska. Nonetheless, injuries are still fairly common even though actual deaths are down, and new crew members are particularly vulnerable. Common sense practices such as always wearing a personal flotation device naturally play a big part in staying safe on the sea, but other strategies also exist.

Here’s how you can hedge your bets and increase your chances of having a successful season:

Get in Shape

One of the major reasons those who are new to the industry are more vulnerable to injuries is that new crew members often aren’t in prime physical condition. Spending the last couple of months before fishing season starts enhances your chances of a safe experience.

Take a Marine Safety Course

Marine safety courses are invaluable tools for anyone who works in a maritime occupation. You can take them in Seattle or Alaska prior to looking for a job on a boat. As an added benefit, you’ll increase your chances of employment if you’ve got safety certification.

Go With an Experienced, Reputable Captain

Another big mistake fledgling commercial fishermen make is not choosing the vessel and the captain wisely. If the captain has a reputation for taking unnecessary chances, you may be putting yourself in harm’s way by signing on with him. Be sure to ask around before making a firm commitment to going out on a specific boat.

Unfortunately, injuries that happen at sea are often more serious than their land-based counterparts. Part of the reason for this is simply the extreme physical nature of the work, and another factor is the sheer distance from commercial fishing grounds to medical facilities equipped to handle emergencies.

Getting hurt while working on a fishing vessel often means high medical costs and lost work time, which is why you need a skilled maritime injury lawyer in Seattle as your advocate. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to the law offices of Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris for more information.