Coast Guard spotlights crab fishermen crab safety

Hawaii-Pacific Coast Guard News
ALAMEDA, Calif. — Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous jobs in America, and Dungeness crab fishing is the most deadly of all West Coast commercial fisheries.

California’s commercial Dungeness crab season is scheduled to begin at midnight on November 14 for the central coast (Avila-Morro Bay to the mouth of the Russian River) and December 1 for the northern coast (Russian River to the Oregon border). U.S. Coast Guard personnel will be available on the docks for dockside exams and safety spot checks in ports from Monterey to Crescent City November 5-7 to help identify and mitigate safety hazards in the crab fleet.

Coast Guard personnel will be walking the docks and informing commercial crab vessels of the required lifesaving equipment for their vessels, as well as pot-loading practices which can affect vessel stability and watertight integrity. Dockside exams have reduced the number of casualties and helped identify potential problems. In previous years, statistics show nearly one-third of EPIRB’s (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons) and life rafts carried onboard were incorrectly installed. This type of situation is easily corrected 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 EPIRBs, can be restricted from operating until the discrepancies are corrected.

All California commercial crab fishermen are strongly encouraged to contact their local Coast Guard commercial fishing vessel safety examiner with any questions or to schedule an exam. Implemented in 1991, the Coast Guard’s Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Program is designed to help commercial fishermen identify and eliminate potential safety hazards. Successful completion of a dockside exam can also make any future Coast Guard at-sea boarding greatly abbreviated.

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