USCG Conducts Operation Safe Crab

With crabbing season fast approaching, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) has announced that it is again conducting its Operation Safe Crab. The USCG Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Program was started in 1991 to assist commercial fishermen in identifying and eliminating potential safety hazards that might cause injuries or fatalities. Beginning in 2010, with the Authorization Act, it became mandatory that all commercial fishing vessels operating farther out than three nautical miles have a dockside examination after October 15, 2012.

The USCG is conducting dockside examinations of the crab fleet in ports from Monterey, California to Crescent City, California between November 6th and the 8th. The California crab season is set to start on November 15, 2012. This season covers the central coast between Avila-Morro Bay, California and the mouth of the Russian River. The northern coast season starts on December 1, 2012, running from the Russian River to the Oregon border.

Part of the Operation Safe Crab program involves USCG personnel walking through the docks, visiting with crab vessel owners and operators and explaining what lifesaving equipment is required for their vessels. They also inform them of pot loading practices, which affect stability and watertight integrity. These dockside examinations have served to dramatically reduce injuries and fatalities, as well as identifying problem areas that need addressing.

Statistics from the 11th USCG District indicate that almost one third of the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) and life rafts on the vessels had been installed incorrectly in the past. Correcting these deficiencies is relatively easy and by doing so many lives can be saved. For vessels with more serious safety violations, the Coast Guard can prevent them from operating until the corrections are made. Some of those discrepancies would include overloading, lack of watertight integrity, missing essential life-saving equipment or having non-functioning EPIRBs.

The USCG encourages all California commercial crab fishermen to contact their local USCG Fishing Vessel Safety examiner to set up an examination of their vessel or ask any questions they might have. Once this examination is completed by a Coast Guard Fishing Vessel Safety examiner, any future at sea boarding by the USCG will be considerably reduced.

Even under the best of circumstances, working on a commercial fishing vessel is dangerous work. It is said to be one of the most perilous jobs in America. Sometimes the resulting injuries and fatalities are said to be caused by uncontrollable acts of God. Other times they can be traced to safety violations by independent fishermen who have historically resisted change and regulation.

If you or someone you know has been injured on a commercial fishing vessel or lost a loved one who was a seaman, you need to seek the advice of a Washington maritime lawyer.

Seattle Maritime Attorneys, John Merriam and Gordon Webb, have helped victims of commercial fishing accidents seek recovery for their injuries or the loss of their loved ones. Our firm has nearly 50 years of collective experience in handling maritime and admiralty law cases. John Merriam has worked as a seaman for 12 years and the Gordon Webb has worked as a fisherman and boat builder.

Contact us through our website or call us directly on our toll free line at (877) 800-1007 to set up your confidential, no obligation consultation. All cases are handled on a contingency basis so that you will never owe us a fee unless we make a monetary recovery for you.

Other Resources:

U.S. Coast Guard News Release, November 2, 2012

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