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Safety & Survival at Sea Training
Marine Fisheries Resource Center - Press Release

Safety & Survival at Sea Training for Commercial Fishermen on June 23 in Montauk

Certified instructors to teach life-saving tips at this daylong workshop


Barbara Branca, 631-632-6956, 631-839-1763; barbara.branca@stonybrook.edu

Antoinette Clemetson, 631-727-3910 Ext 11

Stony Brook, NY, June 13, 2011 – By going out to sea in all seasons and in varying weather conditions, commercial fishermen put their lives on the line when they bring in your favorite seafood. On Thursday, June 23 from 8 am to 3 pm, commercial fishermen are invited to participate in a basic safety and survival at sea training to be held at Inlet Seafood Packing House, 541 East Lake Drive, Montauk, NY.

“During the daylong workshop, fishermen will learn how to deploy life rafts, don immersion suits, give Mayday calls as well as learn life-saving tips about fire fighting, flooding and pump operation and the use of flares and other warning systems,” said Antoinette Clemetson, New York Sea Grant marine fisheries specialist and organizer of the event for the second time this year. At last year’s successful workshop at Inlet Seafood, about 60 Long Islanders attended, most of them commercial fishermen, some of whom had never lit a flare or donned a life-protecting suit. 
“Without a doubt, I’d rather learn here on the dock than offshore when it’s 5 degrees in February,” said John Scheu who’s been long lining off Montauk for 27 years. Other fishermen realized that their immersion suits or life rafts were not sufficient to save their lives.

The certified safety instructors, Ted Williams, Rodney Avila and Tom Toolis are from the IMP Marine Group in New Bedford, Massachusetts with training through the rigors of the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association.  Says Williams, “All of us have lost friends or family members. We want to give fishermen the right information and guidance through the seven steps to ensure survival at sea.”

Such an ambitious training session could not be possible without the support of several organizations notably the New York Center for Agricultural Medicine and Health (NYCAMH) which primarily serves farming communities in central New York. Says NYCAMH Director John J. May, MD, "We receive support from New York’s Occupational Health Clinic Network and from the federal government to reduce the impact of occupational hazards in farming, forestry and fishing.  We are teaming with other groups who share our concerns about the risks of commercial fishing and share the goal of heightening the ability of fishermen to respond to those risks. Participants in last year’s training were quite enthusiastic and we hope that we will have success again this year.”

Another partner is the Long Island Occupational and Environmental Health Center (LIOEHC), designated and funded by the NYS Department of Health as the Long Island center for the prevention and treatment of work-related health problems.  As explained by Linda Cocchiarella, MD, director of LIOEHC, “We work with NYCAMH and other groups to keep workers such as fishermen safe at work. If they are injured on the job, we can provide the medical care they need and deserve, protective equipment, and education to prevent future injuries, regardless of whether they have the ability to pay.  Fishermen have a very dangerous job and we want them to know there is always help available.”   

One purpose of this workshop is to promote safe and healthy workplace, and LIOEHC will bring a registered nurse to conduct basic health screening (diabetes, high blood pressure) for fishermen.

Bonnie Brady, executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association called the June 23rd event a "great opportunity for Long Island's commercial fishermen to spend a day with their peers training in the kind of safety and survival skills that no one hopes they will ever have to use." She said last year's event "was well received by all who attended, and allowed fishermen not only to learn new training skills but share common experiences with each other from years of life working on the sea."

Commercial fishermen are asked to dress appropriately and bring their own immersion suits to participate in the field demonstration. Breakfast and lunch will be provided by New York Sea Grant. There will also be a free raffle for flotation bibs donated by LIOEHC . Last year, the grand prize of an immersion suit donated by IMP was won by fisherman Dave Aripotch of the Caitlin & Mairead. Space is limited, so registration for this day long course is suggested by June 17. There is a $10 registration fee, payable by check to Cornell University.

For registration information, call Antoinette Clemetson, New York Sea Grant (631) 727-3910 Ext 11.

New York Sea Grant, now in its 40th year, is a statewide network of integrated research, education, and extension services promoting the coastal economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness about the State's marine and Great Lakes resources. One of 32 university-based programs under the NOAA’s National Sea Grant College Program, NYSG is a cooperative program of the State University of New York and Cornell University.

Information on LIOEHC can be obtained at www.lioehc.net.

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