Data loading...

UN: Fishing At Sea More Dangerous Than Mining

Thousands of people are killed every year because of incompetence and human error while fishing at sea, which could make it the most dangerous job in the world, a U.N. agency said Monday.

The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization said that an estimated 24,000 people die every year out of a total of about 15 million workers engaged in full time marine fishing.

The death rate is higher than the average rate for other jobs considered the most dangerous in the world, including quarrying, logging and coal mining, the agency said in its report on the state of world fisheries.

A 2003 estimate by the U.N’s International Labor Organization put the number of work-related deaths worldwide at 2 million per year.

The agency said human error, negligence and incompetence are estimated to be the causes of 80 percent of accidents. It also blames competition and the poor quality of many fishing vessels.

“The main cause of loss of life is typically the loss of the boat,” said Jeremy Turner, a fishing expert at FAO who worked on the report. “When you lose a boat, you lose a large number if not all of the crew. Other reasons are collisions and explosions.”

Turner said that the reduction of crews to cut costs, lack of training, bad weather and fatigue also play a role, in a scenario that sees “just too many boats.”

“When you fish like that, safety goes out of the window,” he said.

Turner said that some of the most dangerous fisheries are located in the northeastern Pacific Ocean, the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea.

Fishing and aquaculture supplied the world with about 110 million tons of fish in 2006, the FAO report said. Top producing countries are China, Peru and the United States.

The FAO report also warned of the perils of overfishing saying that about a half of major commercial fishing areas that it monitors are fished to their limits, and a fifth are overexploited.

A separate report issued Monday by conservation group Oceana said that predators such as bluefin tuna, dolphins and whales are suffering from lack of food as well as disease and fertility problems because of overfishing of their prey.