Coast Guard deploys assets to Cold Bay, Alaska, for opilio crab fishing season

Coast Guard Alaska News
KODIAK, Alaska — A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and support personnel are scheduled to deploy to their forward operating location in Cold Bay, to safeguard mariners in Southwest Alaska, Saturday.

With an increased number of vessels operating in the region during the winter and spring seasons for the opilio crab fishery, the deployed Coast Guard aircrews will be able to rapidly respond to mariners in need of assistance. The crews spent most of October and much of November in Cold Bay in support of the red king crab fishery.

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Kodiak is also deployed on the Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau, homeported in Honolulu, and is currently patrolling in the Bering Sea.

“We are being proactive to ensure the safety of mariners by deploying our aircrews back to Cold Bay earlier than normal because there is significant fishing activity in the region,” said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Doug Watson, of the Coast Guard 17th District response management department. “Historically, the Coast Guard has deployed to Western Alaska in January to support the opilio crab fishery. The FOL in Cold Bay eliminates as much as two hours of flight time that a transit from Kodiak requires to respond to cases in Western Alaska during one of the busiest fishing seasons of the year.”

The forward deployed crews receive logistical support from Air Station Kodiak based HC-130 Hercules airplane crews throughout their deployment.

The opilio crab fishery season opened on Oct. 15, and processors are scheduled to open and begin accepting opilio crab catch Saturday. They will remain open until a pre-designated quota of just less than 54 million pounds, issued by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, is caught or May 15, 2014.

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