As Dungeness crab season opens Dec. 16, commercial fishermen can safeguard from emergencies by practicing vessel safety, said the U.S. Coast Guard.
Before crossing a restricted bar between sunset and sunrise, commercial fishermen should alert the Coast Guard on VHF-FM channel 16 or 22A and offer the name of the vessel name, location, number of people aboard, where the vessel is going and any limitations. They also need to report whether the vessel had a safe transit after crossing.
On deck, everyone should wear life jackets or immersion suits when crossing a restricted bar. They must be worn by all persons on deck, or located in any open areas of the vessel while crossing a restricted bar. Not complying may mean up to $25,000 in fines, according to the USCG.
“Without a doubt, Dungeness crab fishermen are anxious to start the 2020-21 commercial crab fishing season,” said Lt. Carl Eschler, the assistant chief of the investigations division at Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Portland. “Be it their first time or 101st time navigating over a bar, fishermen are encouraged to contact their local Coast Guard station to familiarize themselves with bar conditions and reporting methods. Contacting the Coast Guard prior to crossing a restricted bar between sunset and sunrise is more than just a good idea for commercial fishermen, it is a requirement.”
This year, Marine Safety Unit Portland officials have answered more than 95 commercial fishing vessel-related marine casualties, or “non-standard event that disrupts normal operations; like an emergency, accident, collision or damage involving a vessel” in domestic waters, the agency said.