Coast Guard spotlights crab fishermen for safety

Ronald Kram, a Coast Guard Auxiliarist, inspects an immersion suit aboard the Willie K, a crab vessel moored in Spud Point Marina in Bodega Bay, Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012. Every year Coast Guard members conduct free, dock-side inspections of crab vessels before the opening of crab season as part of Operation Safe Crab, an initiative to reduce the loss of lives and fishing vessels in the west coast crab fleet. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Pamela J. Boehland

Ronald Kram, a Coast Guard Auxiliarist, inspects an immersion suit aboard the Willie K, a crab vessel moored in Spud Point Marina in Bodega Bay, Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Pamela J. Boehland

ALAMEDA, Calif. — One of the most dangerous jobs in America is commercial fishing, and Dungeness crab fishing is the most deadly of all West Coast commercial fisheries.

To help reduce the number of deaths, injuries and accidents U.S. Coast Guard fishing vessel safety experts will be visiting Northern California fishing ports in early November ahead of California’s commercial Dungeness crab season.

The season is scheduled to begin at midnight Nov. 14 for the central coast (Avila-Morro Bay to the mouth of the Russian River) and Dec. 1 for the northern coast (Russian River to the Oregon border). Coast Guard personnel will be on the docks in ports from Monterey to Crescent City Nov. 3-5, 2015 to help identify and mitigate safety hazards in the crab fleet.

The fishing vessel safety experts will walk the docks and inform commercial fishers of the required life-saving equipment for their vessels via dockside exams and safety spot checks. Under federal regulations, as of Oct. 15, 2015, all commercial fishing vessels operating outside three nautical miles from the coast are required to have a mandatory dockside safety examination. Dockside safety exams are valid for up to five years and have been instrumental in reducing the number of casualties in the fleet. Vessels found underway with serious safety discrepancies, such as overloading, missing primary life-saving equipment or non-functioning emergency position-indicating radio beacons, can be restricted from operating until the discrepancies are corrected.

Pre-season safety exams are part of the Coast Guard’s Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Program that was implemented in 1991 and is designed to help commercial fishers identify and eliminate potentail safety hazards.

For further information, or to schedule a dockside exam for a commercial fishing vessel, please contact the 11th Coast Guard District CFVS Program Manager at (510) 437-5931, or Northern California CFVS dockside examiners at: Monterey Bay (831) 647-7357; San Francisco to Bodega Bay (510) 437-5788; Fort Bragg to Crescent City (707) 269-2577.

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