Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous industries for workers and among the riskiest types of maritime work. That was in evidence recently when an Alaskan fishing boat capsized in rough and choppy waters off the coast of Kodiak Island. The event could have been a bigger tragedy if not for the heroic efforts of the captain. Incidents like these are not uncommon in fishing and boat owners, captains, and crew members need good training, safety equipment, and preventative measures to make the job safer.
A Capsized Fishing Vessel
One of the many risks of working in commercial fishing is related to weather and water. Often this kind of fishing is done in waters that can be rough with difficult weather conditions. Storms, rain, cold temperatures, and large waves can cause overboard falls, hypothermia, drownings, and can even capsize vessels.
On Monday, July 24, an Alaskan fishing vessel was operating off the coast of Kodiak Island. The vessel was a trawler and the crew was fishing for salmon. They were operating in the Kupreanof Strait in waters that were rough, with waves up to six feet high. The vessel was not far off the shore, but only a half mile out to sea it capsized in the rough water. It began slowly enough with the boat taking on water. Captain Christian Trosvig and his three crew members ended up in the frigid and dangerous water.
A Heroic Rescue
It is not difficult for these kinds of incidents to become fatal quickly. Although not far from the shore, the water was cold enough and rough enough to cause the captain and crew to drown or quickly develop hypothermia. As the vessel began to take on water the captain had enough time to radio for help from other fishing boats in the area. The Calista Marie arrived quickly to assist. Captain Trosvig and one crew member were able to get onto a lifeboat from their sinking vessel, while a second crew member pulled himself up and onto the Calista Marie. The third crew member was not visible.
The U.S. Coast Guard was called in, but within about 20 minutes the missing crew member surfaced. Captain Trosvig didn’t hesitate to dive in to make the rescue. With help from another vessel, Trosvig and the other man were pulled aboard. The captain initiated CPR immediately and within minutes had revived his crew member. The rescue was highly dangerous with the cold water, high waves, and fishing nets and lines in the water in which the men could have become tangled.
The rescue was caught on tape by the camera on a Coast Guard helicopter and Captain Trosvig is being hailed a hero for his quick actions. Both men could easily have perished in this dangerous situation. Fishing in such rough waters and with frigid temperatures can quickly result in fatalities. Heroic efforts are important, but even more important is prevention. Commercial fishermen need safety training, safety gear, and training in how to judge dangerous situations and making quick decisions that can mean life or death. If you or a loved one is hurt or killed in a commercial fishing incident, there are maritime laws that protect you and can help you seek compensation for medical and other expenses.