Coast Guard emphasizes importance of safety this Dungeness crab season

Coast Guard District 13 NewsASTORIA, Ore. – The Coast Guard is stressing the importance of proper boating and fishing procedures this Dungeness crab fishing season in light of a tragic accident, which claimed the life of a fisherman in Coos Bay, Ore., Monday.

The 13th Coast Guard District is conducting Operation Safe Crab in an attempt to reduce fatalities in the dangerous fishery.  The intent of this operation is to improve safety and reduce fatalities by examining Dungeness crab fishing vessels in every port in Oregon and Washington as crews prepare their vessels for the season.

Surviving inevitable risks inherent with crabbing in the Pacific Ocean requires preparation, proper education and a survivor’s attitude.

Mike Rudolph, Fishing Vessel Safety Examiner with Coast Guard Sector Columbia River’s Marine Safety Unit in Portland, Ore., stresses several critical factors in safe crabbing:

• Do not overload your vessel. When loading, unloading, hauling and dropping crab pots, ensure proper weight distribution is maintained aboard the vessel, keeping the center of gravity low.

• Be certain that scuppers are clear of debris and working properly.

• Test high water alarms.

• Have more than one escape route from all spaces and ensure these routes remain unobstructed.

• Wear a personal flotation device if working on deck. Just a few moments in frigid water shuts down extremities and makes swimming impossible.

• Make sure all flares, EPIRBs, survival suits and life rafts are easily accessible and in good condition.

Failure to comply with safety rules and regulations not only compromises the lives of fishermen but their livelihood as well. The Coast Guard Cutter Fir was forced to terminate the voyage of a crabbing vessel Friday after a fisheries boarding team found the vessel failed to contain life rafts and survival suits. Sector Columbia River placed a Captain of the Port order on the vessel requiring it remain inside Coos Bay until the discrepancies have been corrected.

Approximately, 28 fishermen have died while participating in the Dungeness crab fishery over the past decade.

To schedule a voluntary dockside safety exam of a fishing vessel, please contact Dan Hardin, Thirteenth Coast Guard District Fishing Vessel Safety Coordinator, at (206) 220-7226, (425) 239-0186 (cell) or Daniel.E.Hardin@uscg.mil.

Beachgoers, as well as recreational and commercial fishermen and mariners, are encouraged to visit http://www.uscgboating.org/default.aspx for detailed safety information.

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