Aquaculture Workers are Excluded from Longshore Benefits

Claimant filed a claim for hearing loss against Ingalls Shipbuilding, whom he worked for as a pipefitter in 1944, and Clark Seafood, which employed Claimant for forty years as a commercial processor of fish.  After a formal hearing, the administrative law judge determined that Claimant was not entitled to benefits.  Claimant did not establish that his hearing loss related to his brief employment as a pipe fitter in 1944, and he was excluded from claiming Longshore benefits against Clark Seafood because he was an aquaculture worker.

On appeal, the Benefits Review Board (“BRB”) affirmed.  Section 2(3) of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act specifically states that the term “employee” does not include “aquaculture workers.”  See 33 U.S.C. § 902(3) (1984).  The Code of Federal Regulations defines “aquaculture workers” to mean “those employed by commercial enterprises involved in the controlled cultivation and harvest of aquatic plants and animals, including the cleaning, processing or canning of fish and fish products . . . .”  See 20 C.F.R. § 701.301(a)(12)(iii)(E) (2012).

Here, Claimant’s employer was a processor of fish.  Claimant rarely engaged in duties outside of the aquaculture field.  He worked in a processing plant, not on a vessel.  Everything about Claimant’s employment “revolved around the processing of fish.”  Moreover, delving into Claimant’s daily activities may not even be necessary because courts have held that “in cases involving statutory exclusions to coverage,” look at the nature of the work of the employing entity.  In other words, focus on the employer’s business, not the Claimant’s duties.

Stork v. Clark Seafood, Inc., BRB No. 12-0136 (2012) (published).