Oregon State University

Safety at sea

Sea Grant safety training in Yaquina Bay

Safety training brings fishermen back alive

Contact: Kaety Jacobson

According to a 2008 study, Oregon's Dungeness crab fishery is the deadliest commercial fishery in the United States. Sea Grant works with the US to provide fishermen with free drill conductor training, teaching them to fight onboard fires, use emergency distress flares, swiftly don survival suits and, if necessary, safelty abandon ship. 

Since  1991, more than 500 people have taken drill conductor training in Oregon, and learned how to refresh what they've learned in the monthly vessel safety drills the Coast Guard requires them to perform at sea.

The work is paying off in saved lives. In 2010, for example, the fishing vessel Michelle Ann was fishing off of Oregon at the opening of the commercial Dungeness crab season, with six hands onboard. An exhaust fire started onboard the vessel and quickly spread into the engine room.

The crew , which had recently been through drill conductor training, responded calmly and correctly to the incident, with each person taking his or her pre-assigned post exactly as they had during their drills. As a result, the vessel was able to make it back to port without serious injuries to crew, and - after repairs - return to the crab grounds. The captain and crew of the fishing vessel Michelle Ann credited their Sea Grant/Coast Guard training with saving the vessel - and their lives.

Sea Grant is expanding its fishing safety efforts to inform fishermen about how to prepare for - and respond to - a tsunami generated by undersea earthquakes should one strike when they're at sea, in port or at home. 

How to put on a survival suit in under 60 seconds

Immersion suits, also called survival suits, have saved hundreds of lives, largely because they provide protection from hypothermia in cold ocean waters. However, a suit only protects you if you're wearing it, and during at-sea emergencies, fishermen may have only seconds to gear up. Sea Grant's Kaety Jacobson and assistant Ruby Moon demonstrate the right way to get into a survival suit - fast.

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Oregon Sea Grant
1600 SW Western Blvd
Suite 350
Corvallis OR 97333
Phone: 541-737-2714
FAX: 541-737-7958

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