Bristol Bay salmon fishery vessels receive safety inspections

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Coast Guard crews descended upon the Bristol Bay region and provided more than 250 courtesy dockside examinations of commercial fishing vessels as preparation for the 2010 Bristol Bay salmon fishery season.

Inspections started June 10 in both King Salmon and Dillingham. Two Coast Guard teams conducted between 13 to 17 boat inspections a day for the first four days, then as the fishery began on June 15, the number of daily inspections doubled.

Over nine days, the inspection teams issued 217 examination decals. Together both teams inspected an estimated 20 percent of the anticipated 1,100 fishing vessel fleet.

“The exams are non-punitive,” said Lt. j.g. Anne Besser, Sector Anchorage prevention officer. “We don’t issue fines or other penalties for any problems we discover. We focus on safety concerns such as flares, fire extinguishers and navigational charts, lights and signals.”

Fishermen who have had their vessel examined and have earned their safety decal benefit by being less likely to have to suspend fishing to accommodate an at-sea boarding by the Coast Guard or the Alaska State Troopers.

The extremely cold temperatures of Alaskan waters coupled with weather conditions and vast distances from shore can be a deadly combination and the free dockside examinations are a valuable tool to help raise safety awareness.

As the fishery continues, the Coast Guard will be working with the Alaska State Troopers to ensure the fishery is carried out safely.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is forecasting a total sockeye salmon run of 39.77 million fish with a commercial harvest of 31.76 million.

Additional information regarding the Bristol Bay salmon fisheries can be found at the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game website: http://www.cf.adfg.state.ak.us/region2/finfish/salmon/bbayhome.php

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