Coast Guard urges safety for the Dungeness crab season in NorCal

Coast Guard Sector San Francisco members inspect an immersion suit during a dockside vessel examination in Bodega Bay, California, Nov. 10, 2021. The inspection is part of operation Safe Crab, an initiative aimed to identify safety issues with commercial fishing vessels prior to the start of Dungeness crab season to increase safety of the fishing fleet and save lives throughout Northern California. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

Coast Guard Sector San Francisco members inspect an immersion suit during a dockside vessel examination in Bodega Bay, California, Nov. 10, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The Coast Guard urges commercial fishermen throughout Northern California to review their safety equipment and seek out Coast Guard dockside examinations to identify safety hazards in order to prevent maritime emergencies during the Dungeness crab season.

California Coast Guard personnel conducted dockside exams and safety spot-checks last week to identify discrepancies aboard fishing boats prior to the Dungeness crab season from Crescent City to Monterey.

The checks are part of the Coast Guard’s Operation Safe Crab, which is an annual outreach initiative aimed to reduce the loss of lives and fishing boats in the West Coast crab fleet.

“One of the most dangerous jobs in America is commercial fishing and Dungeness crab fishing is considered the most deadly of all the West Coast commercial fisheries,” said Peg Murphy, Eleventh Coast Guard District Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety program manager. “California’s commercial Dungeness crab fishermen are preparing for the season to open in Northern California.

In previous years, records showed nearly a third of California’s commercial fleet Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) and survival craft carried aboard were installed incorrectly.

“While many of these discrepancies are able to be corrected during a dockside inspection, having critical safety gear not functioning properly could be the difference between a rescue and a life lost,” said Murphy.

Any crab boat with serious safety discrepancies, such as overloading of crab pots, instability, lack of watertight integrity, or missing primary lifesaving equipment, can be restricted from operating by the Coast Guard until the discrepancies are corrected.

All California commercial crab fishermen are strongly encouraged to contact their local Coast Guard commercial fishing vessel safety examiner prior to the opener with any questions about safety and applicable federal regulations.

Since 1991, the Coast Guard’s Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety (CFVS) Program has been helping commercial fishermen identify and eliminate potential at-sea safety hazards. Additionally, the successful completion of a dockside exam can greatly abbreviate future Coast Guard at-sea boardings.

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