Boating safety emphasized at start of salmon season

MCKINLEYVILLE, Calif. – Coast Guard Group Humboldt Bay is emphasizing boating safety at the start of this year’s recreational salmon season.

Group Humboldt Bay is prepared for a large increase in boating activity this weekend as the opening of salmon season coincides with Memorial Day weekend. Due to a period of significantly shortened or canceled fishing seasons in the recent past, local Coast Guard units are expecting to see a marked increase in the amount of boaters on the water for this year’s salmon season.

The Coast Guard encourages mariners to put safety at the forefront for this fishing season.  It is advisable to wear life jackets while on the water,  monitor weather conditions and know the limits of your vessel and crew.  The Coast Guard strongly recommends that all boaters 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, your destination and the estimated time of arrival at the fishing grounds and your ultimate destination.  The Coast Guard does not accept float plans; boaters should leave the float plan with a trusted person ashore.  If the voyage changes from the original plan, boaters should contact the person holding the float plan.  Once the vessel returns to its home port or reaches its destination, boaters should close out their float plan.  A downloadable float plan is available from the Coast Guard Auxiliary website FloatPlanCentral.org.

The Coast Guard also recommends boaters to carry a properly functioning Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. If the Coast Guard can receive an accurate EPIRB signal during an emergency, search and rescue platforms may be able to locate distressed boats and persons faster. The EPIRB’s should be registered to the current boat and boat owner that is carrying the EPIRB. Owners of EPIRBs can register them at http://www.beaconregistration.noaa.gov/.

This weekend the Coast Guard Auxiliary will be walking the docks in Fields Landing, Eureka, and Crescent City.  They will be conducting courtesy safety examinations and safety training for boaters.  Coast Guard boat crews will also be conducting at-sea boardings to inspect safety equipment.

Many area fishing vessels may have experienced a long period of inactivity due to recent closures in the recreational 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 Auxiliary provides courtesy safety examinations to local mariners.  For more information on Auxiliary safety exams in the Humboldt Bay area, contact Chief Petty Officer Steve Shelton at 707-839-6591.

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

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