Report: More than 100,000 fishing-related deaths occur every year

BANGKOK (AP) — More than 100,000 people die each year in fishing-related accidents, more than triple previous estimates, and many of those deaths could have been prevented, according to a report released Thursday.

A range of factors contribute to the problem, including abuses by fishing operators, use of child labor, overfishing, climate change, armed conflict and poverty, according to the report, based on Fish Safety Foundation research commissioned by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing has increased despite efforts to combat these practices, as overfishing has driven fleets to travel ever further looking for catches, adding to the risks.

“With 3 billion people dependent on seafood and demand set to rise, tougher policies are urgently needed to keep fishers safe, including those tackling the real drivers of these deaths,” said Peter Horn, project manager of the Pew International Fisheries Project. in a report.

Fishing fleet operators often fail to report fatalities, obscuring the reality of hazards in the industry and making it difficult for governments to devise effective policies to improve safety, said Eric Holliday, chief executive of the Fish Safety Foundation, an international non-profit group. promote safer fishing.

Not all deaths involve huge fishing fleets, where forced labor and other abusive practices have been widely documented.

Traditional private fishing has become increasingly risky as fishermen have to travel further and further as waters closer to shore are overfished or fish migrate to more distant seas due to climate change, the report said. Meanwhile, many governments have reduced patrols and search and rescue missions, in part because of rising fuel costs.

The report’s authors compiled their fishing mortality estimate of more than 100,000 deaths per year based on publicly available data cross-referenced with news reports, social media and discussions with government officials and others.

But much of the data was compiled in the 1990s and needs updating. According to these estimates, which are based on industry and UN data, the highest mortality rates are found in African and Pacific island fisheries. Death rates in the report released Thursday ranged from 207 per 100,000 people in Finland to less than 6 per 100,000 in Poland.

The problem is not limited to ocean-going fishing vessels – on Lake Victoria in Africa, it is estimated that between 1,800 and 5,000 people per 100,000 perish each year.

The report quotes Godfrey Kiwanda, Uganda’s former minister of state for tourism, as saying the number could be much higher as many deaths occur in remote dams and swamps and are not officially reported.

Another overlooked hazard is decompression sickness in divers forced to make repeated deep dives, a common problem in harvesting lobster, sea cucumbers and conch, the report said.

Among the most dangerous fishing industries is raft fishing in Myanmar. Thousands of men are recruited each year, paid around $450 in advance, to stay for a few months on small bamboo platforms atop foam blocks up to 100 kilometers (about 60 miles) offshore. Working in small teams, they catch fish and prawns using nets which they lower into the water, sometimes suffering from a lack of fresh water and food if supply boats do not come often enough. .

Ulcers, beriberi due to lack of vitamin B, tuberculosis and burst arteries are among the common ailments among these workers, according to the report, citing local doctors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *