Fishing continues to be the deadliest livelihood in the US

Laine Welch

KODIAK -- Commercial fishing is still America's most dangerous occupation, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's new annual report. In 2007, fishermen had the highest on-the-job death rate at nearly 112 per 100,000 workers -- 36 times greater than the rate for all other occupations. One-third (327) of all work-related deaths that took place in Alaska during 1990-2007 were fishermen.

Commercial fishing in the U.S. employs 80,000 to 160,000 fishermen on 80,000 vessels, the report said. A further breakdown by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health shows that one-third of all fishing fatalities come from falling overboard; 8 percent are from deck injuries. Fishing-related deaths represented less than 1 percent of last year's 5,488 total occupational fatalities, down 6 percent from the previous year.

Other dangerous jobs were loggers at 85 on-the-job deaths, and pilots at 67 fatalities. More pilots die in Alaska than anywhere else in the nation, with a one-in-eight chance of dying during a 30-year career. Most fatal crashes in Alaska come from losing visibility and flying into mountains.

The third most dangerous occupation was iron and steel workers at 45.5 deaths on the job. The 2007 occupational fatality rate of 3.7 per 100,000 workers was the lowest since the U.S. Labor Department began collecting statistics in 1992.


For the first time in 15 years, Gunnar Knapp will be back in the classroom showing students how economics drives Alaska's seafood industry. The full-credit course will be offered statewide starting this fall via the Internet. Knapp, regarded as one of Alaska's foremost fisheries economists, has been at the University of Alaska Anchorage since 1981. Find out more about Introduction to Fisheries Economics and Marketing at, or call Knapp at 786-7717.

Alton Brown of Food Network fame is the latest to tout Alaska seafood. Brown clears up confusion about food safety and sustainable fisheries with two words: wild and Alaska. Check out Brown's five-minute, Sitka-based video from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute at

Laine Welch is a Kodiak-based fisheries journalist. This material is protected by copyright. For information on reprinting or placing on your Web site or newsletter, contact