Coast Guard asks fishermen to check safety equipment in preparation for Dungeness Crab Season

Dockside Exam DecalSAN FRANCISCO – The Coast Guard advises fishermen Monday to begin checking their vessel’s safety equipment and necessary documentation in preparation for upcoming Dungeness crab season safety spot-checks, which are scheduled to begin next month.

Fishermen can go to and click on the “Checklist Generator Page” page to download a list of actions they can take to prepare for the Dungeness Crab season, which include topics such as documentation, navigation equipment, lifesaving equipment and firefighting equipment.

Coast Guard personnel are scheduled to conduct dockside exams and safety spot-checks Nov. 8, 9 and 10 at commercial fishing ports from Monterey to Crescent City prior to the opening of Dungeness Crab season.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, commercial crab fishing continues to be an inherently dangerous job. Every year, California fishermen’s lives are in danger during crab season with West Coast crabbing vessels having a historically high fatality rate.

The safety checks are part of the Coast Guard’s Operation Safe Crab, which is an outreach initiative to reduce the loss of lives and fishing vessels in the West Coast crab fleet. California’s crab season typically begins Nov. 15 for the Central coast, Avila-Morro Bay to the mouth of the Russian River, and Dec. 1 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 are conducted in an attempt to reduce the number of crab-fishing casualties.

In previous years, many emergency position-indicating radio beacons and life rafts were found to be installed incorrectly, a situation that is often able to be corrected on the spot. Crab vessels with serious safety discrepancies, such as overloading, lack of watertight integrity and missing primary lifesaving equipment, can be restricted from operating until 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. Successful completion of a dockside exam may also make any future Coast Guard boardings at sea greatly abbreviated.

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