'It's a beneficial situation': How the Coast Guard promotes safety during crabbing season
CHARLESTON, Ore. - The rugged Oregon Coast and unpredictable weather make Dungeness crab fishing one of the most dangerous occupations in the country.
Since the start of the season in January, Coast Guard Station Coos Bay has seen a relatively safe season.
"We've had about 6 calls for assistance," said Commanding Officer Kary Moss, "and those calls for assistance have all been for mechanical failures of some sort."
While mechanical failures are inevitable, to promote safety the Coast Guard requires commercial fishing vessels to complete dockside safety exams.
"We ensure that they have all the required equipment and we also work with the crews to make sure they're familiar with the safety equipment," said Steve Kee, a Coast Guard dockside examiner. "That's one of the biggest concerns: to make sure that they know how to use the safety equipment that we require them to have on board, and checking the basic integrity of the vessel itself."
An examination consists of different things.
Kee said the biggest focus is doublechecking to make sure safety equipment is in good working condition.
A dockside exam is mandatory for any commercial fishing vessel operating outside of three miles from shore.
Commercial fishermen are on board with the process.
"It's easy to overlook things," fisherman Fred Fisher said. "There a lot of things going on, and it's easy to let things get by without noticing that they got away, so I don't think you'd get any argument out of anybody that it's a beneficial situation."