In November, U.S. Coast Guard personnel began conducting dockside exams and safety spot-checks of fishing vessels in San Francisco prior to the Dungeness Crab season. The safety checks are conducted in an attempt to reduce the number of crab-fishing casualties.
The checks were scheduled at commercial fishing ports from Monterey to Crescent City. The efforts are part of Operation Safe Crab, which is a Coast Guard outreach initiative to reduce the loss of lives and fishing vessels in the West Coast crab fleet.
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 affecting stability and vessel watertight integrity.
The USCG reports that, In previous years, many emergency position-indicating radio beacons and life rafts were found to be installed incorrectly, a situation that is often able to be corrected on the spot.
Crab vessels with serious safety discrepancies, such as overloading, lack of watertight integrity and missing primary lifesaving equipment, can be restricted from operating until discrepancies are corrected.
California crab fishermen are 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. Successful completion of a dockside exam may also make any future Coast Guard boardings at sea greatly abbreviated.
Fishermen can go to https://www.uscg.mil/d13/cfvs/test/1ChecklistCover.html to download a list of actions they can take to prepare for the Dungeness Crab season, which include topics such as documentation, navigation equipment, lifesaving equipment and firefighting equipment.
California’s crab season typically begins Nov. 15 for the Central coast, Avila-Morro Bay to the mouth of the Russian River, and Dec. 1 for the Northern coast, Fort Bragg to the Oregon border.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, commercial crab fishing continues to be an inherently dangerous job. Every year, California fishermen’s lives are in danger during crab season with West Coast crabbing vessels having a historically high fatality rate.
For more information, contact Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety personnel at the Coast Guard Sector San Francisco’s Prevention Department:
* David Cripe: (831) 647-7357 for Monterey, Moss Landing and Santa Cruz
* Manny Ramirez: (415) 399-7310 for HMB, San Francisco and Bodega Bay
* John Giles: (707) 269-2577 for Fort Bragg, Eureka and Crescent City
source: United States Coast Guard Sector San Francisco Public Affairs