Coast Guard personnel have worked with many members of the Pacific Northwest fishing fleet during the last four months preparing them to be safe and knowledgeable during the commercial Dungeness crab season beginning Sunday.
Coast Guard personnel have conducted more than 90 fishing vessel exams and trained more than 75 fishermen during drill conductor courses held at various ports including Coos Bay, Newport, Garibaldi and Astoria since September.
The fishing vessel exams ensure that the vessels are carrying the mandatory safety equipment including life rafts, immersion suits, flares, lifejackets and other emergency equipment.
Commercial fishermen are required to practice emergency situations at least once per month and the drill conductor course trains fishermen how to run those practice sessions. The training gives commercial fishermen the opportunity to receive valuable hands-on safety equipment and emergency drill training.
Participants practiced with emergency equipment required aboard most commercial fishing vessels—personal flotation devices, life rafts, immersion suits, distress signals, EPIRBs and fire extinguishers. They learned and practiced emergency procedures like man overboard retrieval, abandoning ship, firefighting and flooding control through on board emergency drills and practical demonstrations.
"The Dungeness crab fishery is one of the most dangerous occupations in the country," said Curt Farrell, fishing vessel safety coordinator, Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Portland. "There is no way to make it 100 percent safe, but our goal is to ensure that everyone that participates in the fishery has everything they need including the gear and knowledge to come home to loved ones. Nearly every survivor of an emergency situation involving a fishing vessel in the Pacific Northwest has participated in one or more of the drill conductor courses."
Information and photos by USCG