Coast Guard encourages commercial fishermen in Alaska to focus on safety

Coast Guard Alaska NewsANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Coast Guard 17th District is encouraging commercial fishermen to make safety a top priority following the deaths of four commercial fishermen within the past month.

Commercial fishing in Alaska is inherently dangerous, especially during the harsh winter seasons.

Fishing vessel owners and operators are reminded of the importance of properly maintaining their vessel’s life saving equipment, ensuring that all crewmembers working on deck are wearing personal floatation devices and conducting regular shipboard drills in order to maintain the crew’s proficiency at operating shipboard emergency equipment.

“With the red king crab and other winter fisheries underway it’s important that mariners remain aware of the dangerous conditions they face on the fishing grounds,” said Lt. William Albright, lead marine investigator, Coast Guard Sector Anchorage. “These dangers are ever present and are the reasons why we’re encouraging mariners to remain vigilant when it comes to crew training and safety.”

The Coast Guard also encourages owners and operators to review and be knowledgeable of the general maintenance and upkeep of their vessels. Minor hull leaks and machinery failures should be properly repaired and documented. Vessel operators need to be fully aware of the operating constraints that may pertain to their vessels. This includes being aware of the risks of both overloading and operating outside the restrictions of their stability letters and the crew’s ability.

As a reminder, dockside safety exams became mandatory on Oct. 16 for all commercial fishing vessels operating beyond three nautical miles of the territorial sea baseline. If you are an owner or operator of a fishing vessel that has not yet had a Coast Guard dockside safety exam, one can be scheduled by visiting http://fishsafe.info/ or by contacting the nearest Coast Guard Sector or Marine Safety Detachment:

In Ketchikan, 907 225-4496
In Sitka, 907 966-5454
In Juneau, 907 463-2448
In Valdez, 907 835-7223
In Homer, 907 235-3292
In Kodiak, 907 486-5918
In Unalaska/Dutch Harbor, 907 581-3466
In Anchorage, 907 271-6700

Questions or concerns regarding dockside safety exams can be directed to Ken Lawrenson at (907) 463-2810 office, 907-321-4110 cell or e-mail to Kenneth.Lawrenson@uscg.mil.

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