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ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Coast Guard will offer courtesy dockside examinations of commercial fishing vessels in Bristol Bay in anticipation of the 2018 Bristol Bay salmon fishery season.
The Coast Guard anticipates sending examiners to the following locations for public outreach and to encourage dockside exam participation:
King Salmon: June 8-18
Dillingham: June 16-24
Egegik: June 11-15
Examiners will conduct exams, which will address any safety issues that may be present before an operator gets underway. The examiners will not issue fines or other penalties for any problems they discover at the dock. The exams focus on safety and address items such as flares, charts, navigational signals, fire extinguishers, emergency position indicating locator beacons and the serviceability of immersion suits.
The signal used to indicate a vessel is ready for an exam will be to run a ring buoy up high on the mast or on the bow in a highly visible location. Fishermen can also sign up for an exam by calling and speaking directly with one of the Coast Guard examiners working in Dillingham 907-439-5777, Egegik 907-439-5779, and King Salmon 907-439-5778.
Each vessel that passes a dockside exam earns a decal. Fishermen operating vessels with recently-issued decals may benefit by being less likely to accommodate an at-sea law enforcement boarding.
“Finding out if you have a problem before the problem presents itself is a far better way of doing business,” said Russell Hazlett, commercial fishing vessel examiner for Coast Guard Sector Anchorage.
The number of lives lost during Alaska fisheries has been in decline since the adoption of the Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Act of 1988. The leading cause of fatalities in the commercial fishing industry is drowning. The extremely cold temperatures of Alaskan waters coupled with weather conditions and vast distances from shore are a deadly combination.
It is recommended that all fishermen wear life jackets when on the deck of any vessel. There are more types and styles of life jackets available now than ever before, with several styles to fit the needs of commercial fishermen, including several new slim, lightweight, inflatable life jackets that are worn like suspenders and life jackets that are integrated into raingear.
For more information on preparing for vessel examinations, operators may visit www.fishsafewest.info to complete a checklist generator that will provide a detailed pre-examination checklist.
Additional information regarding the Bristol Bay salmon fisheries can be found at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website.