Coast Guard to conduct Operation Safe Crab

The Coast Guard will again be conducting Operation Safe Crab, an initiative to reduce the loss of lives and fishing vessels in the west coast crab fleet.

California’s crab season is scheduled to begin Nov. 15 for the central coast from Avila-Morro Bay, Calif., to the mouth of the Russian River, and Dec. 1 for the northern coast from the Russian River to the Oregon border. Coast Guard personnel will be available on the docks for dockside exams in ports from Monterey, Calif., to Crescent City, Calif., Nov. 6-8 to help identify and mitigate safety hazards in the crab fleet.

Coast Guard personnel will be walking the docks and informing commercial crab vessel operators of the required lifesaving equipment for their vessels, as well as pot-loading practices affecting vessel stability and watertight integrity. The 2010 Authorization Act changed the law for commercial fishing vessels, making it mandatory for vessels operating outside of three nautical miles to have a dockside examination after Oct. 15, 2012. Dockside exams have reduced the number of casualties and helped identify potential problems. 11th Coast Guard District statistics show nearly one-third of Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacons and life rafts carried on board were incorrectly installed. This type of situation is easily corrected and can help prevent a disaster at sea. Those vessels with serious safety discrepancies, such as overloading, lack of watertight integrity, missing primary life saving equipment or non-functioning EPIRB’s, can be restricted from operating until the discrepancies are corrected.

Implemented in 1991, the Coast Guard’s Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Program is designed to help commercial fishermen identify and eliminate potential safety hazards. Successful completion of a dockside exam can also make any future at-sea Coast Guard boarding greatly abbreviated.

All California commercial crab fishermen are encouraged to contact their local Coast Guard Fishing Vessel Safety examiner with any questions or to schedule an exam.

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