Coast Guard to Conduct “Operation Safe Tuna 2008”

SAN FRANCISCO (D11 Public Affairs) – U.S. Coast Guard personnel will be conducting safety spot-checks of tuna vessels and encouraging voluntary dockside exams on July 8th and 9th. Fishing harbors where safety checks will be offered are: Crescent City, Eureka, Fort Bragg, Bodega Bay, San Francisco, Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, and Moss Landing.

This outreach effort is part of the local Coast Guard’s “Operation Safe Tuna”, which is conducted prior to the start of the local albacore (tuna) fishery season to reduce the potential for loss of lives and fishing vessels in the West Coast tuna fleet. Coast Guard personnel will be walking the docks and spot-checking tuna vessels for the required primary lifesaving equipment and vessel watertight integrity. These safety checks can reduce potential casualties. For example, in previous years, statistics have shown that nearly one-third of EPIRB’s (Emergency Position Indicating Beacons) and liferafts were installed incorrectly. This type of situation is easily corrected on the spot, and can prevent needless tragedies at sea for California’s commercial fishing vessel fleet. These are non-punitive safety spot checks. Fishing vessels boarded at sea with serious safety discrepancies can be restricted from operating until the discrepancies are corrected.

California tuna fishermen are strongly encouraged to contact their local Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety dockside 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, as well as required placards and literature are available.

Successful completion of a dockside exam will result in the issuance of a USCG exam decal and can potentially make any future Coast Guard boarding at sea less likely or significantly abbreviated, while the decal is valid.

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