Coast Guard spotlights crab fishing safety in Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore. — Coast Guard personnel is conducting vessel safety spot checks and voluntary dockside exams in Harbor, Ore., starting Sunday, just prior to the opening of the Oregon Dungeness Crab fishery.

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

Similar safety checks in previous years found that between one-quarter and one-third of EPIRBs and liferafts are installed improperly. Most of these deficiencies are easy to correct. 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 problems 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 Guard’s continuing initiative to reduce the number of fisherman’s lives lost at sea. Commercial Dungeness crabbing vessels operate in some of the winter’s worst weather, in hazardous waters, and have the highest fatality rate of any West Coast fishery. According to a study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in Anchorage from 2000-2007, 766 fishermen per 100,000 were fatally injured in the Dungeness crab fishery off of the Oregon coast.

For information regarding Operation Safe Crab or availability of voluntary dockside exams please call Curt Farrell, Commercial Fishing Vessel Coordinator, Coast Guard Sector Portland, at (503) 240-9373 or e-mail curtis.j.farrell@uscg.mil.

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