Coast Guard Shines Spotlight on Crab Fisherman

ALAMEDA, Calif. – One of the most dangerous jobs in America is commercial fishing, and crab fishing is the most deadly of all commercial fisheries. Every year, California fishermen lose their life and/or their vessels during crab season.

California’s crab season begins on November 15th for the Central coast (Avila-Morro Bay to the mouth of the Russian River) and December 1st for the Northern coast (Russian River to the Oregon border). U.S. Coast Guard personnel will be conducting safety spot-checks and encouraging voluntary dockside exams in ports from Morro Bay to Crescent City on November 7, 8 and 9th prior to the first crab opening to help identify safety hazards in the crab fleet.

Coast Guard personnel will be walking the docks and spot-checking crab vessels for the required primary lifesaving equipment as well as pot-loading practices affecting vessel stability and watertight integrity. These safety checks have reduced the number of casualties and have helped identify potential problems. Previous year statistics show nearly one-third of EPIRB’s (Emergency Position Indicating Beacons) and liferafts carried onboard are installed incorrectly. This type of situation is easily corrected on the spot, and can help prevent a disaster at sea. Those vessels with serious safety discrepancies, such as overloading, lack of watertight integrity, missing primary life saving equipment or non-functioning EPIRB’s can be restricted from operating until the discrepancies are corrected.

All California commercial crab fishers are strongly encouraged to contact their local Coast Guard Fishing Vessel Safety examiner with any questions. Implemented in 1991, the Coast Guard’s Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Program is designed to help commercial fishermen identify and eliminate potential safety hazards. Free vessel safety assessments, EPIRB testing, stability and damage control information, as well as required placards and literature are available. Successful completion of a dockside exam can also make any future Coast Guard boarding at sea greatly abbreviated.

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