Tuesday, February 10, 2004

National Geographic Discovers Dangerous Jobs

Thirty years ago, the Devil's Wind—hurricane force southerlies—swept along the Southern Oregon coast. It was mid-August and many commercial salmon fishermen were baiting their lines miles from the safety of Brookings Harbor. With gusts pushing over 80 knots, every boat on the sea risked capsizing.

"I watched my best friend, John Crook, die when his father's fishing boat was swamped and rolled by the waves near the jetty off the Chetco River," said captain John Fraser, owner of the 42-foot (12.5-meter) wooden fishing boat Njord, based in Harbor, Oregon. "I was only ten years old then. But every time I cross that sandbar near the jetty I still think about it."

National Geographic has a new television series called "Dangerous Jobs." Most of the series seems to deal with the more "exotic" jobs -- underwater photographers, oil well fire fighters, test pilots, and bull fighters, but this article looks at a less glamorous job, hazards of commercial fishermen.
Throughout the 1990s, the fatality rate for commercial fishermen in Alaska was 28 times that of the overall U.S. work-related fatality rate of 4.4 per 100,000 workers a year, according to the Washington, D.C.-based National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Between 1992 and 1996, Alaska commercial fishing suffered 112 fatalities according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, based in Washington, D.C. Massachusetts claimed second place with 32 deaths; Oregon was fifth with 21.

This one may have already been shown. Can't find it on the schedule.

For photos of deep sea fishermen, check out labor photographer Earl Dotter's exhibit here.