The fatal and non-fatal injuries related to work in commercial fishermen operating out of New Zealand ports is described. Three data sources were used to provide information on the nature of the injuries sustained, as well as their circumstances. High rates of fatal and non-fatal injury were found, with most deaths attributed to drowning, and concerning a vessel operating in rough seas or poor weather. A higher fatal injury rate was found for the west coast of New Zealand when compared with the rest of the country. This is likely to be due to a combination of factors, including rougher sea conditions, a lower density of fishing vessels operating in the area, and the siting of many west coast fishing ports at dangerous river and harbour bars. Injuries to hands and fingers related to the use of winches, machinery and knives were common, as were back strains associated with lifting, and a variety of injuries resulting from falls. There is need for a comprehensive injury information source, such as an industry based register specific for fishing, so that effective preventative strategies and their evaluation can be developed.
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