The shrimp, Pacific salmon or king crab you ate for dinner didn't just jump out of the water willingly. Commercial fishers are responsible for meeting our seemingly insatiable demand for water creatures to dine on -- 8 billion pounds (3.63 kilograms times 10 to the ninth power) in 2008 [source: NIOSH].
Unfortunately, these fish and shellfish aren't found in the most accessible places. They reside, for example, in the icy waters of Alaska, where hypothermia can claim a man in a matter of minutes.
Those who work from boats are at the mercy of the weather and the water. A storm can capsize a vessel or sweep men off the deck with a huge wave. Heavy fog hides other boats, and rough waters cover submerged rocks.
Falling overboard is more common than you might think; not because fishers are clumsy, but because of all the equipment onboard a ship. If a crab-pot line happens to take you with it or you slip on a deck covered in fish innards, there's really only one place you're headed, and that's into the briny deep. Sometimes, men who aren't trained in diving are sent to untangle a net and never surface.
And remember that, onboard a ship, medical attention is far away indeed -- part of the reason that 504 U.S. commercial fishers died between the years 2000 and 2009 [source: NIOSH].