The safety of commercial fishing: Determinants of vessel total losses and injuries Academic Article uri icon


  • Commercial fishing is one of the least safe occupations. This study investigates determinants of vessel total losses and number of fatal and non-fatal crew injuries resulting from commercial fishing vessel accidents. An injury and vessel damage accident model is developed. Total vessel loss and crew injury models are estimated using probit and negative binomial regressions, respectively, and a unique micro data set of commercial fishing vessel accidents. Estimation results indicate that the probability of a total loss is the greatest for a capsizing, followed by a sinking accident. Fire/explosions and capsizings are expected to incur the greatest number of crew fatalities - 3.5 and 3.8 for every 100 such accidents. For every 100 collisions, 2.1 non-fatal crew injuries are expected. The probability of a total loss and the expected number of crew fatalities vary inversely with the price of fish catches. We discuss relevant issues related to fishing vessel safety management and regulation. Important vessel safety measures are summarized. Policy implications: (a) policies that reduce capsizings and sinkings will be effective in reducing fishing vessel accident total losses; (b) policies that reduce fire/explosions and capsizings (collisions) will be effective in reducing fatal (non-fatal) injuries. Policymakers should find the results of this study useful in developing regulation and enforcement mechanisms for reducing fishing vessel injuries and total losses.

publication date

  • June 2001