Operation Safe Crab: dockside safety checks for 2011-12 dungeness crab season

Coast Guard District 11 NewsMCKINLEYVILLE, Calif. — Weeks before the opening of Dungeness crab season, the Coast Guard will increase their presence on the docks of Eureka, Noyo River and Crescent City harbors from Nov. 8 to 10 conducting dockside exams and safety spot checks on fishing vessels.

With commercial crab fishing the most dangerous job in America, this grassroots effort is part of the Coast Guard’s “Operation Safe Crab,” a program intended to reduce fatalities and loss of fishing vessels in the west coast crab fleet. Every year, California fishermen lose their lives during crab season and west coast crabbing vessels continue to have the highest fatality rate of any west coast fishery.

California’s crab season is anticipated to begin on Nov. 15 for all California Marine Districts except 6, 7, 8, and 9. Districts 6, 7, 8, and 9 should open on Dec. 1.

Since Operation Safe Crab began, these safety inspections for required primary lifesaving equipment and pot-loading practices affecting stability and vessel watertight integrity helped reduce the number of potential fatalities by proactively identifying hazards and correcting discrepancies before a boat sets sail for sea.

As an example, last year’s inspections found that nearly one-third of all EPIRB’s (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons) and life rafts were installed incorrectly. This type of situation can be easily corrected on the spot and more importantly, prevents needless tragedies at sea for California’s crab fleet.

California crab 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’s primary focus is to help commercial fishermen identify and eliminate potential safety hazards. Services include free vessel safety assessments, EPIRB testing, training on stability, safety drills and damage control, as well as required placards and literature. Successful completion of a dockside exam may help expedite Coast Guard boardings at sea.

For more information, contact:
U. S. Coast Guard Group Humboldt Bay
Curtis Barthel
1001 Lycoming Way
McKinleyville, CA 95519
Email: Curtis.J.Barthel@uscg.mil
Phone: 707-839-6589

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