Operation Safe Crab 2007

Eureka, Fort Bragg and Crescent City California – November 7th, 8th and 9th – U.S. Coast Guard personnel will be conducting safety spot-checks and encouraging voluntary dockside exams in various Humboldt, Del Norte and Mendocino County ports prior to the local crab opening. The most dangerous job in America continues to be commercial crab fishing. Every year, California fishermen lose their life during crab season, and West Coast crabbing vessels continue to have the highest fatality rate of any West Coast fishery.

This outreach effort is part of the Coast Guard’s “Operation Safe Crab”, an initiative started to reduce the loss of lives and fishing vessels in the West Coast 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 (Fort Bragg to the Oregon border).

Since “Operation Safe Crab’s” inception, Coast Guard personnel have walked the docks and spot-checked crab vessels for the required primary lifesaving equipment, pot-loading practices affecting stability and vessel watertight integrity. These safety checks have greatly reduced the number of potential casualties. For example, previous year’s statistics show that nearly one-third of EPIRB’s (Emergency Position Indicating Beacons) and liferafts are installed incorrectly. This type of situation is easily corrected on the spot, and has helped prevent needless tragedies at sea for California’s crab fleet. Crab vessels with serious safety discrepancies, such as overloading, lack of watertight integrity, missing primary life saving equipment or non-functioning EPIRB’s can be restricted from operating until the discrepancies are corrected.

California crab fishermen are also 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, training on stability, safety drills and damage control, 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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