Coast Guard spotlights crab fishing safety as season approaches

SEATTLE — Thirteenth Coast Guard District personnel will conduct vessel safety spot checks and voluntary dockside exams in various Northwest ports Nov. 24-26 just prior to the opening of the Ore. and Wash. State Dungeness Crab fishery.

Coast Guard examiners will spot-check primary lifesaving equipment and pot loading practices on vessels while in port. These spot checks of freeboard and watertight integrity, survival suits, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons EPIRBs and liferafts are meant to ensure that critical safety items are ready for use should an at-sea emergency occur.

Similar at-the-dock checks in previous years found that between one-quarter and one-third of EPIRBs and liferafts are installed improperly. Most of these deficiencies are easily corrected on-the-spot. Fishermen are advised that extremely serious discrepancies, such as overloading, lack of watertight integrity, missing primary lifesaving equipment or non-functioning EPIRBs may result in a vessel being restricted from operating until the deficiencies are corrected. In addition to the checks Coast Guard fishing vessel safety personnel will be available to conduct basic safety training, as well as voluntary dockside safety examinations for interested vessels.

This outreach effort is part of Operation Safe Crab, the Coast Guards continuing initiative to reduce the number of fishermans lives lost at sea. Commercial Dungeness crabbing vessels operate in some of the winters worst weather, hazardous waters and have the highest fatality rate of any West Coast fishery. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health NIOSH the Dungeness Crab fishery in the Pacific Northwest is more dangerous than Alaskan Crab fisheries.

Any questions regarding Operation Safe Crab, or availability of voluntary dockside exams should be directed to Dan Hardin, Thirteenth Coast Guard District Fishing Vessel Safety Coordinator, at 206 220-7226, 206 239-0186 or Daniel.E.Hardin@uscg.mil

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