Widening Safety: FISH Wellness Act Helps Fishing Communities

FISH Wellness Act can advance safety training and fishermen’s health programs

In fishing families and communities across the country, respect for the ocean is a lesson handed down from one generation to the next. Safety training is becoming part of that tradition.

“Fishing communities are close-knit by nature,” said Emily Coffin, Seafood and Fisheries Policy coordinator for the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association. “When tragedy strikes, all members are personally affected by loss. Safety training does more than save one or two lives; it can keep communities whole.”

These days, Emily supplements her hours on the water with her work at the association, learning more about the legal and regulatory systems impacting her family’s tradition of fishing, including the programs that support fishermen’s safety training.

“Before I earned my commercial license, my dad took me to a daylong safety training at our local community center,” said Coffin, whose father is a career lobsterman. “I donned a safety suit, became versed in fire safety, and earned a newfound sense of safety on the water for both my dad and me.”

Every injury or loss of life at sea is a tragedy. Safety training programs across the country have reduced commercial fishing vessel injuries and fatalities by nearly 80 percent since the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health began a grant program to help fund research and development for safety training.

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