If you are headed to a local pond or lake, you may not consider fishing to be all that dangerous.
Chances are the only real risk of injury you have is the fact that you could end up with a hook in your finger.
Although this can be traumatic, it is nothing like what could happen when you look at commercial crab fishing.
Fishing for crab in your own local waters is likely not all that dangerous, but you will be amazed at how quickly crab fishing can turn deadly in a commercial setting.
There are some important reasons behind this and things that you should be considering when you pay for crab.
Sometimes these crabs are expensive because of all that goes into catching them.
Here are ten reasons crab fishing is so dangerous.
Why Is Crab Fishing So Dangerous? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. Cold Water
The most dangerous kind of crab fishing is king crab or snow crab fishing.
The time of year you can catch these crabs and the location mean that the water is going to be cold.
This is the temperature the water needs to be for the crab to thrive and grow to the proper size for harvesting.
Although crab fishermen do not need to be in the water, they will be exposed to the water, and they could potentially even fall in the water.
A fall into these cold waters is going to take an immediate rescue in order for the person to survive.
Although you may think that a fall is a rare occurrence, it can actually happen quite often.
These falls need to be protected against as, for some people, they can result in a very quick death.
When you fall into cold water like this, you have a very high chance of getting hypothermia.
The thing that makes this even more difficult is that the fisherman does not wear a wetsuit to keep them protected from the cold water.
The cold water, mixed with heavy, wet clothing, potentially carrying equipment, and the rough saltwater sea can result in some very dangerous situations.
Cold water also happens to get on the arms, hands, and face of the crab fisherman.
Even this exposure can make a person end up with raw skin and abrasions.
Essentially, the fact that crabbing occurs when the water is freezing is going to make the entire process much more dangerous.
2. Rough Seas
Unfortunately, the snow crabs and king crabs are not caught in the inshore waters.
The crab fisherman has to spend a lot of time very far out in the ocean, and this causes things to be even more difficult.
Essentially, the boat is going to be moving at all times.
At this depth in the ocean and this distance from shore, there are no real calm days.
The boats that crab fishermen are on are going to be stable and large, but they still bounce around a lot.
For those who are not used to it, not only can the seas make you sick, they are also going to make the chance of a fall or a slip much more likely.
When carrying equipment around or throwing a net over the side of a boat, it is easy for a crab fisherman to get hurt.
When they try and complete this process, and the boat takes a big wave, it is hard to control your body movement.
If you are on a small boat and paying attention to each wave that comes up, it is not all that hard to control your movements.
However, when you are trying to complete a job, and the boat moves all around, the crab fishing can send the fisherman all over the place.
Not only is entanglement scary, but it is also much more common than you think.
When you first learn to work in commercial fishing, you will have to understand where all the lines are and what they are attached to.
If you don’t have the knowledge of where it is safe to be and where it is not safe to be, the chance of injury is high, and it can happen quickly.
Entanglement can take a person directly off the boat, but it can also lead to serious injury.
If your arm or leg is caught in a rope and there are lines that have hundreds of pounds of traps on them, it can be enough to take off a limb.
Entanglement tends to happen most often when there are poor systems onboard a boat.
Most captains know of the importance of making sure that fishermen don’t get tangled, and they are going to spend quite a bit of time making sure the crew fully understands this.
Many times, entanglement can happen when your hands are not on the ropes properly, or you slip because the deck on the boat gets wet.
Making sure that you have the proper equipment to avoid these types of issues and disasters is essential.
The fact that entanglement will always be a concern greatly increases the chance of getting hurt while crab fishing.
4. Rough Weather Conditions
The season for catching crab is not all that long.
This means that, in order to capitalize on the most profit, the fisherman needs to be out in the water at very difficult times of the year.
Although you can prepare for some of the rough weather conditions by wearing the right clothing, it sometimes won’t be enough to get you through the day.
When the temperatures are freezing, and a gust of rain or wind comes from the cold seawater, you will become extremely uncomfortable.
Rough weather conditions can also cause dangerous issues with the boat.
When the weather gets rough, the boat may take on a bit of extra water.
With lots of people and heavy equipment on board, it is essential to make sure that crab fishermen are ready for rough weather conditions.
It’s important to consider both wind and rain when you think about the poor weather.
Most people who fish are going to go on a sunny day and sit by the side of a lake, but when it comes to crab fishing, the process is entirely different.
This is just another one of the many reasons that crab fishing is so dangerous.
To work on a crab fishing boat, you are going to have to know how to swim.
This will be a requirement because of the chance of falling overboard.
There are times when you are pulling in equipment or letting it out, and it will increase your chance of taking a swim in the ocean.
Prior to getting a job on the boat, you will have to be able to prove that you can swim.
Many crab fishermen will wear a life jacket of some sort.
This won’t look like the typical personal flotation device you are used to.
Typically, these are paper-thin, and when a person goes over, they can pull a cord for the life vest to inflate.
As clever of a concept as this is, many crab fishermen have been doing this job their entire lives, and they think they don’t need equipment like this.
Another problem with these types of life vests is that they don’t work too well if a person hits their head and becomes disoriented as they fall into the water.
Since it takes some mental clarity to remember to pull the string, the functionality of these life vests is not always ideal.
The other option that the boat has is a life ring that can be thrown out to a person who has fallen overboard.
If the seas are rough, it is difficult to find these life rings and then be able to grab on to them.
This causes more safety concerns.
As we mentioned, in the snow crab and king crab season, the water is freezing, and it will only take a few minutes, sometimes seconds, for a person’s body to go into shock.
They will become disoriented and forget how to swim the way they need to in rough seas.
All it takes is one wave to send you down.
Drowning is a terrible way to die, but it is a reality for many crab fishermen.
It is essential to ensure that all precautions are taken to make sure that no crab fishermen end up drowning.
More and more boats are going to require life jackets as time goes on, and even though they are difficult to work with, life is more important than work.
6. Heavy Machinery
Onboard the fishing vessel, there is going to be quite a bit of heavy machinery.
Some of this machinery can slide or move across the deck.
This can be a concern for the fishermen who are moving around the boat.
You are also going to notice that this equipment has sharp edges and some dangerous gears and chains.
This type of equipment has been known to grab a finger or an ankle and get people seriously hurt.
It is a good idea to have a general understanding of mechanics and the way things work if you are going to be a crab fisherman.
Out at these extreme water depths, it is difficult to pull up the heavy traps filled with crab.
The best way to do this is using electric winches.
These are very powerful and fast-moving machines, and if you don’t have all of your body parts out of the way when they are in use, they can seriously hurt you.
Heavy machinery is an important reason crab fishing is so dangerous.
Those who stay the safest are the ones who know how to use the machinery and know where they need to be looking and paying attention at all times.
Being a crab fisherman takes a lot of alertness.
If you are an easily distracted person who is not quick on their feet, this is most certainly not the career for you.
7. Boat Malfunction
When you are out to sea, you put quite a bit of trust in your boat.
If a boat does not hold up or has some kind of major malfunction, you can get stranded.
With how far out to sea you must be to catch these crabs, the boat is really going to have to hold up and make sure that it can get people in and out safely.
The members of the Coast Guard are often the people who will have to rescue a large crab boat like this.
However, the Coast Guard is not always going to be located directly next to the boat.
There need to be some supplies and rations for these crab fishermen to get by without all their necessary supplies for a few days.
The other issue is if the boat goes completely down.
This has happened in the past, and it is a very bad situation.
Many of these crab fishermen are trying to keep expenses down, and they work with a boat that is considerably older than some other choices on the market.
This means that these boats can have damage that makes them sink while out at sea.
It is rare for the boats to have an additional lifeboat along with them, but more and more operators are trying to include this.
The lifeboat should be able to rescue the crew for the time being until they are able to be rescued.
Of course, the situation will still be dire, and the rescue needs to happen quickly, but it can mean the difference between life and death.
Most boats are going to have an engineer on board who will help to make sure the crew is safe from a serious boat malfunction.
8. Long Hours/Exhaustion
Workers on a commercial fishing boat of any kind, including crab fishing, are going to work very long hours.
Often, the boat will go out for days at a time, and therefore, there is not all that much to do but to work.
Crab fisherman works twelve- to fourteen-hour days at a minimum.
They will clean up, eat, and go to bed and start out again the next day.
This process is something they are used to.
They do it to make as much money as they can during their time at sea and then take time off during the off-season.
Many people work long shifts and then take a few days off, but it’s a little different when you are being exposed to the types of conditions that crab fishermen are.
Crab fishermen are spending days in the cold and doing hard physical labor the entire time.
These difficult positions make people very tired and subject to getting sick.
This can make things much worse when you are out to sea and still have to work even when you are not feeling well.
Also, when you don’t feel well, you may not make the same decisions, and you could leave yourself open to additional injuries.
The fact that these jobs are so difficult and can cause exhaustion is yet another reason crab fishing is so dangerous.
9. Lack of Safety Regulations
For many years, the regulations and safety considerations in commercial crab fishing were almost non-existent.
This was one of those careers that nobody really wanted to do, so the guys who were doing it were left alone.
As long as they kept their crew and themselves safe, then it was good enough for most interested parties.
However, through the years, there have been more studies done about the dangers of crab fishing.
These studies have opened up the eyes of the people and made them realize how dangerous this industry is.
It’s so dangerous, in fact, that some additional regulations needed to be put into place.
Yes, it is important to bring crab to the market so that people can enjoy it in restaurants and at the grocery store.
However, it is not necessarily important enough to start taking the lives of hard-working individuals.
For this reason, many safety regulations have been put into place to help this to be a safer career.
Of course, overall, crab fishing as a career is still going to be more dangerous than accounting or gardening, but over the years, the additional safety regulations are helping.
Another thing that is helping is modern technology and GPS to help track boats that have issues.
Rescue crews can make much quicker rescues than they could in years past.
10. Lack of Research into Better Safety Methods
The marine industry and the fishing industry have lots of different issues that they need to investigate from time to time.
These issues cannot all be looked into as there are just too many of them at any given time.
The dangers and safety regulations in crab fishing have been mostly ignored for a very long time.
However, this is changing.
More and more time is being put into working on keeping crab fishermen safer.
For this boat to stay on the water and continually employ people, they will need to be safe and environmentally responsible as well.
These things are going to be required regardless of how long the crab fishermen and their families have been in the business.
There is lots of money in the crab fishing industry if you know what you are doing.
However, the most important thing is to make sure that people are safe.
If people are in danger, the money that is made is not going to matter.
Crab fishermen are learning to balance the modern workforce’s needs when it comes to safety and danger and their desire to make money.
The crab fisherman has a lot to think about and prepare for in the course of their season, but if it’s a successful and safe season, it certainly will have been worth the preparation.
Hopefully, you now see why crab fishing is so dangerous.
This is not your typical fishing that people are involved in from week to week.
Crab fishing is difficult, but it will provide the crab fisherman with a large profit if it is done right.
However, even making a large profit is not enough for a successful season.
The most important thing is to make sure that all of the fishermen come back to the dock injury-free.
This takes lots of prep work and diligent attention the entire time you are out to sea.
Many boats do a great job of it and will continue to be successful for years to come.
Those who choose to cut corners will have a hard time continuing to find employees willing to risk their lives.
With all of the reality television shows highlighting the crab fisherman and their lives, you can get a real feel for what they deal with out on the water.
Most would agree that this is not a job for everyone.