Coast Guard promotes safe 2009 Sitka Herring Sac Roe fishery

JUNEAU, Alaska – The Coast Guard is offering courtesy dockside examinations of commercial fishing vessels in Sitka, Alaska, in anticipation of the annual Herring Sac Roe fishery, which is slated to open later this month.

Fishermen can sign up for an exam in the Sitka Harbor Master’s office, by calling Sector Juneau Fishing Vessel Safety Coordinator Scott Wilwert at (907) 957-0152, or by speaking with a Coast Guard examiner working in Sitka’s harbors this week.

The courtesy dockside examination program offers fishermen an opportunity to work with Coast Guard representatives to ensure vessels meet Federal safety regulations. The examiners will not issue fines or other penalties for any problems they discover at the dock. Each vessel that passes a dockside exam earns a decal.

Fishermen operating vessels with recently-issued decals benefit by being less likely to have to suspend fishing operations to accommodate an at-sea Coast Guard law enforcement boarding.

Historically, multiple collisions have occurred during the Sitka Sound Herring Sac Roe fishery due time and space limitations. Coast Guard enforcement assets will be on scene during the opener to ensure the safety of all vessels operating in the vicinity.

The Coast Guard would like to remind the operators of cork line tenders and other skiffs (other than seine skiffs) that when they are operating in support of the Herring Sac Roe fishery, they must comply with federal regulations governing the safety equipment required on fishing vessels. However, a special Coast Guard District Seventeen waiver permits crewmembers working in skiffs to wear anti-exposure suits instead of carrying immersion suits on board, provided that certain other conditions are met.

Skiff operators can download a copy of the waiver from Sector Juneau’s home page at <http://homeport.uscg.mil/juneau> under the Commercial Fishing section. Skiff operators may also contact Scott Wilwert at (907) 957-0152 for more information.

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