Emphasize boating safety, preparation, for start of Dungeness crab season

11th Coast Guard District NewsMCKINLEYVILLE, Calif. – Expecting an increase in boating activity in the following weeks starting Jan. 15, Coast Guard Group Humboldt Bay emphasizes boating safety at the start of this year’s delayed commercial Dungeness crab season.

Encouraging safety first for this crabbing season, the Coast Guard strongly recommends for all mariners wear personal flotation devices while on the water as surviving the risks inherent with crabbing in the Pacific Ocean requires preparation, proper education, and a survivor’s attitude. Mariners must know the importance of monitoring weather conditions and know the limits of their vessels and crew.

While the Coast Guard understands the economic impact of a delayed commercial season, accepting additional risks in an unforgiving environment is not an option. Overloading a vessel can fundamentally change its buoyancy characteristics and put all on board in danger. Mariners should also ensure all safety equipment such as flares, shipboard alarms, EPIRB’s, life rafts, and survival suits are in good condition and easily accessible.

If something does happen to a mariner on the water, one of the best resources to assist the Coast Guard is the float plan the mariner filed with their family or friend. While the Coast Guard does not personally accept float plans; boaters should leave the float plan with a trusted person ashore. A good float plan, sample available on www.uscgboating.org, includes a description of the vessel, names of the crew, a list of safety equipment on board, the estimated time of arrival at the fishing grounds and a return schedule. Mariners are reminded that once their vessel returns to its home port or reaches its destination, they should close out their float plan.

Dockside Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Inspections are a great way to ensure compliance with all safety regulations and that vessels gear is in serviceable condition. Examinations can be schedule by contacting Manny Ramirez, the Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Coordinator, at (510) 437-5788.

For information on the crab season, check the California Department of Fish and Game website at: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/invertebrate/management_com.asp#crab

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