Coast Guard Spotlights Crab Fishermen for Safety

SAN FRANCISCO – 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 12th, 13th and 14th prior to the crab season opening to help identify and mitigate safety hazards in the crab fleet.

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). 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.

Prior to the beginning of this years opening, Coast Guard personnel will be walking the docks and spot-checking crab vessels for the required primary lifesaving equipment as well as proper pot-loading practices affecting vessel stability and watertight integrity. In the past, these safety checks have reduced the number of casualties and have helped identify potential problems. Previous year statistics show that nearly one-third of EPIRB’s (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons) and liferafts carried onboard were installed incorrectly. This type of situation is easily corrected on the spot and can help prevent a disaster at sea. The Coast Guard can restrict those vessels with serious safety discrepancies, such as overloading, lack of watertight integrity, missing primary life saving equipment or non-functioning EPIRB’s, 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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