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The evolution of the fishing industry over the centuries has been accompanied by the development of skills and experience in vessel design, construction and equipment, as well as in fishing operations and safety at sea. Technical developments drastically accelerated this evolutionary process; widespread use of outboard engines, the use of hydraulics for hauling gear and catches, synthetic nets and lines, fish finding electronics and refrigeration equipment led to massive leaps forward in productivity and profitability. Under the free-for-all access to fisheries together with the market's insatiable demand for fish, the harvesting capacity of the fleets was bound sooner or later to reach or even exceed the maximum yield of the fishable stocks.

Excessive fishing effort; increased competition; reduced profitability; economies in vessel maintenance, equipment and manpower; fatigue; recklessness; fisheries management measures (which do not take sufficient account of the human element or fishermen safety into consideration); diversified fishing operations unaccompanied by training, traditional experience and skills; these are some of the factors which have resulted in fishing being the most dangerous occupation in the world.

The consequences of loss of life fall heavily on the dependents. In developing countries, these consequences can be devastating: widows have a low social standing, there is no welfare state to support the family and with lack of alternative sources of income, the widow and children may face destitution.

Many developing countries face the need to design and implement a system to manage their fisheries and may look for external advice and aid to further their goals.

There are a number of areas where improvements can be made at the national level to improve safety for fishermen, provision and analysis of data identifying the cause of accident; education and training of trainers, extensionists, fishermen and inspectors; improved fisheries management, safety regulation and enforcement; develop safety guidelines, increased collaboration between fishermen, fishermen's organisations and government.

last updated:  Friday, January 27, 2017