Commercial Fishing as an Occupational Determinant of Opioid Overdoses and Deaths of Despair in Two Massachusetts Fishing Ports, 2000-2014

New Solut. 2021 Nov;31(3):252-258. doi: 10.1177/10482911211023476. Epub 2021 Jun 22.


The opioid epidemic has had disproportionate effects across various sectors of the population, differentially impacting various occupations. Commercial fishing has among the highest rates of occupational fatalities in the United States. This study used death certificate data from two Massachusetts fishing ports to calculate proportionate mortality ratios of fatal opioid overdose as a cause of death in commercial fishing. Statistically significant proportionate mortality ratios revealed that commercial fishermen were greater than four times more likely to die from opioid poisoning than nonfishermen living in the same fishing ports. These important quantitative findings suggest opioid overdoses, and deaths to diseases of despair in general, deserve further study in prevention, particularly among those employed in commercial fishing.

Keywords: commercial fishing; deaths of despair; mortality; occupational fatality; opioids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Massachusetts / epidemiology
  • Occupations
  • Opiate Overdose*
  • United States