Coast Guard Increasing Patrols During Dungenes Crab Season

McKinleyville -Coast Guard Group/Air Station Humboldt Bay will be increasing its patrols throughout Northern California offshore waters using aircraft, cutters and boats in anticipation of the opening of Dungeness crab season on December 1st.

The Coast Guard may be joined by federal, state and/or local law enforcement officials to ensure compliance with applicable laws.

The increased efforts are part of “Operation Safe Crab”, an initiative started to reduce the loss of lives and fishing vessels in the West Coast crab fleet. The primary objective of the increased patrol effort is to ensure the safety of all vessels and crews involved with the Dungeness crab season. The most dangerous job in America continues to be commercial crab fishing. 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.

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. Crab vessels with serious safety discrepancies, such as overloading, lack of watertight integrity, missing primary life saving equipment, or non-functioning Emergency Position Indicating Radiobeacons, or EPIRBs, can be restricted from operating until the 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. Free vessel safety assessments, EPIRB testing, stability training, safety drills and damage control, as well as required placards and literature are available from the Coast Guard. Successful completion of a dockside exam can also make any future Coast Guard boarding at sea greatly abbreviated.

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