The Seattle Times recently ran an article about the first crab season completed under a new harvest system intended to create a more profitable, less wasteful and safer crab fleet. According to the Times, the results are mixed. Perils still remain in harvesting crab in some of the world’s most treacherous waters. And some crews were upset by a lower pay scale.
Between 1980 and the winter of 2005, an average of more than three crew members a year died during the harvests, according to statistics compiled by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
The new rules reduced the size of the fleet and divided the harvest among the more than 300 vessel owners, who have the right to fish, lease or sell those shares to the highest bidder. They also vested a group of crab processors, most based in Puget Sound, with exclusive rights to buy 90 percent of the catch.
The Bering Sea king- and snow-crab harvests have been the deadliest fisheries in America, unfolding in years past in fiercely competitive derbies that prompted skippers to push the weather — and crews — as they raced to grab as much crab as possible during seasons that sometimes lasted less than a week.
If you have been injured while crabbing you are entitled to maintenance and cure. You may also be entitled to bring a personal injury claim under the Jones Act or under common law. It’s important you contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your potential case.