Coast Guard officials in Portland, Ore. are reminding commercial harvests of the importance of taking safety precautions while engaged in the upcoming commercial Dungeness crab season.
An advisory, issued on Dec. 13 by Coast Guard Sector Columbia River commander Capt. Justin Noggle, was issued out of concern over past incidents of a spike of search and rescue cases involving commercial fishing vessels.
The Coast Guard said most major marine casualties involving loss of life or loss of a vessel occur during the Dungeness crab season for a number of reasons, including unavailability of lifesaving equipment, poor weather conditions and fatigue.
Noggle said that while Coast Guard crews stand ready to respond along the Pacific Northwest coast, all mariners are urged to be prepared and take safety precautions to help ensure a successful crabbing season.
The Coast Guard is asking vessel operators to conduct routine maintenance and pre-departure checks of vital systems and safety equipment prior to getting underway. This includes ensuring proper operation of machinery, electrical systems, propulsion, steering, bilge/dewatering systems, fuel systems and ensuring filters have been replaced according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
The Coast Guard also reminded mariners to verify proper operation and readiness of all lifesaving equipment, including life rafts, emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs), hydrostatic release units, life jackets, immersion suits, distress signals and ring life buoys.
Commercial fishermen are also reminded that they can sign up for dockside safety exams for their vessel with Coast Guard Commercial Fishing Vessel Examiners who can assist in identifying and addressing safety concerns.
A resource for more information on safety exams is online at www.fishsafewest.info, which includes a vessel checklist.
During extremely weather conditions, bars may be closed entirely if they exceed the operating parameters of Coast Guard search and rescue resources. Bar closures are announced via broadcast notice to mariners on VHF-FM channel 16 and 22A. Current bar conditions and restrictions for Washington, Oregon and Northern California are posted at www.weather.gov/pqr/AllBars.