Coast Guard to conduct safety checks for Dungeness Crab Season 2009

MCKINLEYVILLE, Calif. – Coast Guard personnel will be conducting dockside exams and safety spot-checks in various Humboldt, Del Norte and Mendocino County ports, Nov. 5-10, 2009, prior to the opening of the dungeness crab season.

This outreach effort is part of the Coast Guard’s “Operation Safe Crab,” an initiative started to reduce the loss of lives and fishing vessels in the West Coast crab fleet. California’s crab season is scheduled to begin November14 for the central coast (Avila-Morro Bay to the mouth of the Russian River) and December 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 and affecting stability and vessel watertight integrity. These safety checks have greatly reduced the number of potential casualties. For example, previous year’s statistics show that nearly one-third of all emergency position indicating radio beacons and life rafts were installed incorrectly. This type of situation is easily corrected on the spot, and has helped prevent needless tragedies at sea for California’s crab fleet.

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, training on stability, safety drills and damage control, as well as required placards and literature are available. Successful completion of a dockside exam can also make any future Coast Guard boarding at sea greatly abbreviated.

Commercial crab fishing remains one of the most dangerous job in America. 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.

For more information Contact:
U. S. Coast Guard Group Humboldt Bay
CWO Jon Placido
1001 Lycoming Way
McKinleyville, CA 95519
Phone: 707-839-6589

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