The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that commercial fishermen have the highest rate of on-the-job fatalities, with about 116 people dying for every 100,000 fishers in 2010. Most of these deaths happen when the boat sinks, but 1/3 of the deaths occurred when people went overboard.
In a report by NIOSH (National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health), they found that one of the greatest dangers is when fishermen get tangled in the heavy machinery on board, something that happens most often to commercial shrimpers in the Gulf of Mexico (55 deaths between 2000 and 2009, compared to 25 deaths for West Coast dungeness crab in the same time period).
Shrimping boats have enormous winches that haul in the trawl nets used to catch shrimp (and their bycatch) and any loose clothing or the limbs of distracted fishermen can get caught in them. Between 2000 and 2009, 35 people had serious accidents this way. At best this can involve bad injuries, but oftentimes these accidents end in amputations or even death.
As we have mentioned before, most of our shrimp now comes from farms in Asia, but you can still find “Gulf Shrimp”. True Gulf Shrimp, not Gulf-like shrimp, like in the video below. Is catching shrimp worth it? Is shrimp farming the answer? We like to think that sustainable shrimp farms are a good step in the right direction. But with our increasing appetite for shrimp, we have a lot more farming to do.