Shrimpers Know Their Jobs Can Be Deadly

Thousands of men and women on the Coast work in what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls the most dangerous job, the fishing industry.

The government places commercial fishing at the top of its five most risky professions. Shrimpers can tell you some stories where they didn't think they would make it to shore alive. Sadly, that was the case for one Coast shrimper this week.

The Coast Guard says Greg Skrmetti drowned after his shrimp boat capsized and he became entangled in twine. Shrimpers say they stay in the business to make a living, and they accept the dangers as part of the job.

"Anytime you go out on shrimp boat or any kind of boat, it's dangerous," Coast shrimper Ivy Dean said.

Dean has worked on the water for 33 years. He says he's been in all kinds of scary situations that threatened his life and boat.

"We were going down the Atchafalaya down in Louisiana, and it was foggy, and near Avery Island a seacorp boat hit this boat," Dean said. "It flipped this boat over, and it stayed sunk for six days, and we picked it up and it cost me $180,000 to put it back to work."

One of Dean's deckhands remembers a time when he says he saw his life flash before him.

"Could've drowned," shrimper Noel Foret said. "The boom came straight on the deck, and the cable broke and came straight on the deck. The boat starting leaning, and good thing there was another boat there to come pick us up."

Most fishermen and shrimpers have similar horror stories. They say every time they leave the docks they never know if they'll come back.

"You're fooling with blocks, cables, wenches, and a lot of these guys work by theirself," shrimper Jeffrey Balius said. "You have to carry a life ring with you, and if you fall overboard, who's going to throw it to you if you're by yourself?"

The Department of Marine Resources says since July of last year in the three coast counties, there have been 94 boat accidents. That includes recreational and commercial. The DMR says three people died in those accidents.

Online Producer Glenn Cummins