Alaska's commercial fishing industry just had its first year with no deaths

For the first year-long period on record, from Oct. 1, 2014, through the end of September 2015, the Coast Guard recorded zero operations-related commercial fishing fatalities in Alaska, a milestone in an industry known for its "Deadliest Catch" persona.

In an article in Alaska Fish & Wildlife News, published by the state Department of Fish & Game, the change is credited partly to management practices that have been making the industry safer for years. But also, the article notes, fewer people are fishing.

Through much of the 1980s, an average of 31 fishermen died in Alaska each year, according to the report.

Six commercial fishing boats sank last summer, but no one was killed. However, one death aboard a commercial fishing vessel was recorded between June and September 2015, according to a Coast Guard enforcement report.

The death wasn't included in the zero-fatality count because it wasn't explicitly related to operations on the fishing boat -- for example, if someone dies of natural causes while on the vessel -- said Scott Wilwert, commercial fishing vessel safety program manager for the Coast Guard in Alaska.

The first fatality of 2015 came in October, when 36-year-old Gary Graves died while diving for sea cucumbers near Kodiak.

You can read the whole article here.

Annie Zak

Annie Zak was a business reporter for the ADN between 2015 and 2019.