Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Workplace Health and Safety Information—Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing

An Exploration of Northeast Fishing Perspectives on Hatch and Door Monitoring Systems and Health and Safety Programming


Commercial fishing is the nation's most dangerous occupation, with the highest rate of fatal work injuries (116/100,000 workers), a rate 27.5% higher than the second leading occupation, logging (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010). On surveys completed at Northeast fishing safety trainings, nearly 1 in 5 of New England fishermen say they have known a coworker who died while fishing and that 22% of respondents have been in a life-threatening situation while fishing.

The vast majority of deaths in fishing are a result of drowning after a man-overboard or vessel sinking (Lincoln & Lucas, 2010), with 25% of fatalities from 2000 to 2009 occurring in New England and 77% on shellfish or groundfish vessels (ibid).The 2008 losses of 12 men in the sinkings of F/V Alaska Ranger and F/V Katmai resulted from the flooding of watertight compartments through open hatches, which quickly compromised the vessels' stability and control. A hatch monitoring system would address this cause of vessel loss and fatality. The hatch monitoring system developed by Wapato Engineering uses sensors on all doors to provide easy indication of the watertight status of hatch and door openings on a monitor installed in the wheelhouse. Prototypes have been installed on vessels in the Bering Sea (longliner F/V Lilli Ann and catcher trawl vessel F/V Gladiator), and crew on these vessels have reviewed the systems favorably.

Future efforts

The primary objective of this project is to assess the interest of New England scallop and groundfish commercial boat owners in the adoption of an innovative hatch and door monitoring system currently used on commercial Alaskan fishing vessels and to elicit feedback on the compatibility of these devices in the Northeast Fishing Fleet.

A secondary objective is to develop a workplace intervention program for improving the health and safety of commercial fishing crew by building an evidence-based curriculum informed by the perspectives of fishing vessel owners, captains, and crew members.

Hatch Monitoring System Developed by Wapato Engineering

Faculty and Facility

PI: Kristina Pinto (Fishing Partnership Support Services)

In partnership with Fishing Partnership Support Services: