Comfy, lightweight life jackets are easy to work in and keep you safe!

Since 1994 it’s been the law that skippers and crews do monthly safety drills if they fish beyond three miles.

“And those monthly drills have to cover Man Overboard, flooding, fire and abandoned ship, those four scenarios.”

Jerry Dzugan is director of the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association based in Sitka.

AMSEA training helps fishermen get used to doing the safety drills and stay up to speed with survival equipment like EPIRBS, life rafts and radios, immersion suits and what to do in emergencies.

“ The Coast Guard recognizes the certificate cards that we give to people who have completed the course as meeting the requirements is being a drill conductor.”

Dzugan there is better safety awareness overall and tragedies like the recent loss of five fishermen on the Scandies Rose boosts interest in safety training – for a while.

“And then it seems like we go into our collective amnesia. Or it’s hard for people to say in an acute state of awareness about a risk, and we tend to get into our old habits again after a while.   But I think with every time this happens, the Destination, Big Valley, the list goes on for decades, people are more aware and more conscientious of that. I think we’ve seen a lot more interest among younger fishermen who are just entering the fisheries.”

About 50% of fishing deaths are due to boat stability issues, Dzugan says, and up to a third from falling overboard – deaths that could be prevented with use of new comfy, workable life jackets.

“I see and I hear more people using them, but it’s still nowhere near a majority. And some of that is due to the fact that a lot of people aren’t aware of some of the extremely wearable devices that are out there.”

Eight fishermen died in Alaska in 2019, according to Scott Wilwert CGD17 Fishing Vessel Safety Program Manager, and already five this year.

AMSEA is doing safety drill training as part of the Young Fishermen’s Summit in Juneau on Friday and in late February in Kodiak.

Check out the full training line up at