Coast Guard terminates voyage of crabbing vessel near Long Beach, Wash.

SEATTLE — The Coast Guard terminated the voyage of a commercial crab fishing vessel for numerous safety violations three miles west of Long Beach, Monday.

A 47-foot Motor Life Boat crew from Coast Guard Station Cape Disappointment in Ilwaco escorted the crew of the 58-foot fishing vessel Shearwater Two to Ilwaco following the vessel’s voyage termination.

Boarding officers from Station Cape Disappointment and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife boarded the Shearwater Two around 9:30 a.m. During the course of the boarding, officials observed safety violations including: insufficient number of survival suits, expired flares and an expired emergency position indicating radio beacon registration.

“Having safety equipment on board and knowing how to properly use it is crucial for all mariners, especially commercial fishermen,” said Curtis Farrell, commercial fishing vessel safety coordinator at Sector Columbia River in Warrenton, Oregon. “The vessel Blazer that sank this weekend is a perfect example. Four out of the five crewmembers had previously taken our commercial fishermen safety drill course; they were survivors. If the Shearwater Two had gone down and one of the guys didn’t have a survival suit, his chances of survival would be lessened right from the start.”

WDFW officials also noted several fisheries violations while aboard the vessel.

“The partnership with the Coast Guard is essential to working offshore fisheries,” said Sgt. Dan Chadwick, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will be pursuing criminal charges against the owner of Shearwater Two for fisheries violations including pulling crab pots before the season opened. An additional inspection by a WDFW patrol boat of the vessel’s gear following its termination resulted in subsequent violations involving improper gear tagging.”

The Shearwater Two’s crew is prohibited from getting underway on the vessel until all safety violations are corrected.

Officials at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River have conducted nearly 200 vessel safety and fisheries boardings so far this year as part of Operation Safe Crab, an initiative to reduce the number of fishermen’s lives lost at sea. Commercial Dungeness crabbing vessels often operate in rough winter weather in hazardous waters and, according to the Centers for Disease Control National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, have the highest fatality rate of any West Coast fishery, excluding Alaska.

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