'Lifejackets for Lobstermen' tours the coast to improve safety

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SOUTHWEST HARBOR, Maine (WABI) - Researchers from the Northeast Center for Occupational Health and Safety have been traveling along the coast of Massachusetts and Maine with two vans full of life jackets.

"Commercial fishing in general is a very dangerous industry as we all know."

"The lobsterman part of the industry has the most man overboard incidents and deaths from it."

Erin Lally and Mandy Roome are field researchers with the Lifejackets for Lobstermen Project. As the name implies, they are trying to make life on the water safer by supplying better lifejackets.

"Most of the life jackets that are on the market are just too bulky for them to wear. Belts, buckles, everything on the front. If it makes it hard for them to work in they're not going to wear it."

Many lobstermen do not wear a life jacket while they work.

"We've talked with over 550 Lobstermen over the past couple years just to try and identify the stuff that they want to see in a life jacket."

"See how they feel, get feedback on them, maybe take some suggestions back to the manufacturer."

The team took the life jackets that were rated the highest and filled two vans with them. They're making 48 stops at wharfs and boat landings from New Bedford Massachusetts up along the coast of Maine.

"We're going as far as Jonesport and then once we're done there, we're gonna head back to Massachusetts and do the tour all over again."

They provide a discount to commercial lobstermen and offer information on a variety of models.

"Our goal is just something that is comfortable enough to wear. Something they'll wear all the time."

"We want the lobstermen to be safe while they work and be able to continue fishing."