As fall shrimp season winds down, crews must be alert to dangers

| Nov 12, 2020 | Maritime Law |

We are past the halfway point of Louisiana’s fall inshore white shrimp season, which typically lasts from mid-August through mid-December. In the past three months, we have seen a number of shrimpers in their boats trawling along the shallower coastline waters seeking shrimp, a seafood that has long been a major contributor to the state’s economy.

But people who enjoy eating shrimp may sometimes give little thought as to how that Louisiana delectable seafood wound up on their plates. And, with that, they may not understand the dangers faced by shrimper crews. Commercial fishing remains one of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. Injury and even death are among the job hazards of fishermen.

Shrimp industry recorded most fatalities

Shrimpers have experienced their share of danger. The shrimp fleet recorded the most fatalities – 25 — within the commercial fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexico during the five-year period of 2010 through 2014. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the shrimp industry accounted for more than half of the 49 fatalities recorded during that period.

Within the shrimping industry, the leading causes of death during that time were:

  • Fatal vessel disaster: nine
  • Onboard fatality: eight
  • Fatal fall overboard: six
  • Diving fatality: two

The other fishing fleets to record multiple fatalities in the Gulf of Mexico included snapper/grouper (nine); oyster (four); menhaden (three); crab (two); and shark (two). Four other fleets recorded a single fatality each. They are: crawfish, other shellfish, mullet and other pelagic.

As much as safety continues to be stressed within the commercial fishing industry, tragedies and severe injuries such as amputations continue to occur. Crews must look out for themselves and each other to minimize the chance of facing dangerous situations.