Coast Guard emphasizes importance of safety during the crab season

11th Coast Guard District NewsALAMEDA, Calif. – The Coast Guard reminds boaters and crab fishermen of the importance of proper safety equipment and procedures as crab season continues and the winter months approach.

Crab fishing is an extremely hazardous job, and since the fishery opened on Nov. 15, 2011, there have been more than 10 search and rescue cases conducted by the Coast Guard involving crab fishermen. Thankfully, there has not been any loss of life or serious injuries reported this year.

The 11th Coast Guard District is conducting Operation Safe Crab in an attempt to reduce the risk fatalities in the dangerous fishery. The intent of this operation is to improve safety and reduce fatalities by examining Dungeness crab fishing vessels in every port in Northern California as crews head out for the season.

Surviving inevitable risks inherent with crabbing in the Pacific Ocean requires preparation, proper education and a survivor’s attitude.

Manny Ramirez, the 11th Coast Guard District Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Examiner, stresses several critical factors in safe crabbing:

  • Do not overload your vessel. When loading, unloading, hauling and dropping crab pots, ensure proper weight distribution is maintained aboard the vessel, keeping the center of gravity low.
  • Be certain that scuppers are clear of debris and working properly.
  • Test high-water alarms.
  • Have more than one escape route from all spaces and ensure these routes remain unobstructed.
  • Wear a personal flotation device if working on deck. Just a few moments in frigid water shuts down extremities and makes swimming impossible.
  • Make sure all flares, EPIRBs, survival suits and life rafts are easily accessible and in good condition.


Failure to comply with safety rules and regulations not only compromises the lives of fishermen but their livelihoods as well. The Coast Guard boarding teams can be forced to terminate the voyage of a crabbing vessel if the crew fails to maintain the necessary safety equipment. Coast Guard Group Humboldt Bay and Sector San Francisco’s Captain of the Port can place an order on the vessel requiring it to remain moored until the discrepancies have been corrected.

Approximately, 28 fishermen have died while participating in the Dungeness crab fishery over the past decade.

To schedule a voluntary dockside safety exam of a fishing vessel, please contact Manny Ramirez, 11th Coast Guard District Fishing Vessel Safety Coordinator, at (510) 437-5788.

Beachgoers, as well as recreational and commercial fishermen and mariners, are encouraged to visit for detailed safety information.


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