Boating safety emphasized at start of salmon season

MCKINLEYVILLE, Calif. – To coincide with the start of this year’s recreational salmon season on May 14, Coast Guard Group Humboldt Bay in conjunction with Coast Guard Auxiliary Division 8 is celebrating National Safe Boating Week early.

Nationally, Safe Boating Week is the week before Memorial Day, but in order to be ready for a safe salmon season the Coast Guard is pushing boating safety early. The Coast Guard is prepared for a large increase in boating activity this weekend in the Eureka and Crescent City areas for the start of salmon season.

The Coast Guard encourages mariners to put safety at the forefront for this fishing season. All vessels are required to carry enough life jackets for each person on board and children under 13 years old are required to wear their life jacket at all times.

Additionally, mariners should monitor weather conditions, and know the limits of their vessel and crew. Many area fishing vessels may have experienced a long period of inactivity due to recent closures in the salmon season. It is imperative that mariners take a close look at their vessel’s safety gear, machinery, equipment and overall seaworthiness especially if they have not been underway recently.

The Coast Guard encourages all boaters to file “float plans” with friends or family. A good float plan includes a description of the vessel, names of the crew, a list of safety equipment on board the vessel, the estimated time of arrival at the fishing grounds and the ultimate destination of the excursion. The Coast Guard will not monitor float plans; boaters should leave the float plan with a reliable person who can be depended upon to notify the Coast Guard in case you do not return as scheduled. Float plan templates are available online and can be found here (pdf).

This weekend the Coast Guard Auxiliary will walk the docks in Fields Landing, Eureka and Crescent City. They will conduct courtesy safety examinations and safety training for any interested boaters. These exams are free, and no penalties are issued for discrepancies, they are strictly for education and safety. For more information on auxiliary safety exams, contact Curtis Barthel at 707-839-6589.

Coast Guard boat crews will also be conducting at-sea boardings to inspect safety equipment.

The Auxiliary will also be going to local schools to discuss boating safety with children, conducting life jacket giveaways in Crescent City and Clear Lake and holding a boating safety event on Whiskeytown Lake.

For information on the salmon season, see the California Department of Fish & Game website at: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/oceansalmon.asp

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