Deep-sea fishing is not the safest activity out there. There are many safety risks that are associated with being miles away from the shore of a water body. The uncertainty that comes with being surrounded by nothing but volumes of water can be crippling for many people.
Therefore, safety is always a matter of concern for people that are planning to venture into deep-sea fishing. However, like many other outdoor adventures such as hiking, hunting and mountain-climbing, accidents are inevitable.
Something unfortunate is bound to happen, and it is for that reason that people ought to be prepared for just about anything.
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What Are the Dangers of Deep-Sea Fishing?
The moment you get into a boat to sail away into the deep sea, you are already exposed to various safety hazards.
The further you move from the shore, the riskier it gets. Deep-sea fishing normally takes place more than nine nautical miles into the sea.
Storms are some of the scariest things to experience while out at sea. They come with strong winds and mighty waves, which may rock the boat out of human control.
In the worst scenario cases, the boat could flood or even capsize due to the turbulence of the sea.
The biggest fish are found deep in the sea. The size of fish increases as one moves away from the shore.
While it is exciting, it poses the danger of encountering enormous and dangerous fish such as sharks and whales.
Catching these enormous fish could lead to anglers falling overboard when the fish overpowers them. That is why it is important to always have back-up when a fish is too heavy to lift out of the water.
Falling overboard is one of the most common dangers associated with deep-sea fishing. About 30% of deep-sea fishing fatalities are as a result of overboard falling.
Unsteady waters and poor weather conditions are other causes of falling overboard.
While water and fire do not blend, water vessels are not immune to fires. Fuel, which is used to run most boats, can cause fire when mishandled. Being away in the sea can make the situation a little direr than if it was onshore.
Diving in the deep seas can cause accidents too. Divers normally aid in fishing or maintaining the boats and other equipment. While in the water, divers could run out of oxygen or experience equipment malfunctions.
Additionally, one could fall sick while out in the sea. It could be seasickness or another condition that an angler could be suffering from.
Not being able to access immediate healthcare poses a safety hazard to the fishers. The same applies to serious injuries that are incurred while fishing.
The good news is that with proper preparation and the necessary safety measures, the dangers of deep-sea fishing can be countered.
Following safety guidelines and being aware of one’s surroundings make deep-sea fishing very safe.
Deep-Sea Fishing Safety Guidelines
Safety in the sea is a personal responsibility. Therefore, you should take charge of your own safety when going to the deep waters to catch fish.
Below are tips to enhance the safety of your deep-sea fishing experience.
- Conduct thorough research of the charter company you will be going on the expedition with. Compare it with several other companies before you make a commitment. Make sure it is legit and puts the safety of anglers first. Choose a charter company with well-trained crew members and sea-worthy vessels.
- Check weather patterns for the days or weeks leading up to a trip. Knowing the weather pattern will put you in a position to determine the best day for you to go fishing. More importantly, you will be able to avoid going fishing on days that are likely to have storms.
- Ensure that you bring the necessary safety gear with you. One of the most important safety items is a life jacket. Anything can happen; if you happen to fall overboard, the jacket will keep you afloat until help arrives.
- Go for your deep-sea fishing trip with dependable companions, such as seasoned sailors and lifeguards. Also, ensure that fellow anglers or passengers know where the safety equipment is kept and how to use them. The safety equipment should be in perfect working condition.
- Have communication channels to the shore and rescue groups in case you need extra help. It is also important to give a friend or family member the details of your trip. This would include the time of departure, places you will sail to, and the expected time of arrival back at the shore.
- When in the face of danger, like a storm, for instance, look up to the crew members for directions. They are more experienced as they have been in similar situations many times before. It is also vital to learn how to swim before heading out for a deep-sea fishing trip.
Do people die while deep-sea fishing?
Between 2000 and 2015, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reported an average of 42 deaths in a year among deep-sea fishers.
So, yes- people die while out fishing in the deep waters.
However, it is highly likely that the deaths may have been a result of inadequate safety measures. It is rare for people to perish out in the sea when they follow safety guidelines religiously. A dumb mistake is capable of costing one their life.
Still, some of the deaths are caused by natural phenomena like storms. In such cases, there is not much one can do, really. Other causes of fatalities include collisions, explosions and rolling waves.
Is there legal compensation for deep-sea fishing accidents?
When an injury is the result of negligence on the part of the charter company, the injured angler could be entitled to compensation. This is according to the Jones Act.
Negligence in this scenario refers to improper vessel maintenance, lack of adequate safety measures, improperly trained crew members and lack of inspections.
Furthermore, the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA) allows the next of kin of fishers who die in the deep seas to recover the damages when the charter company is responsible.
Deep-sea fishing can be a dangerous activity. However, with the proper safety guidelines in place, it can be very safe.