ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Coast Guard will offer courtesy dockside examinations of commercial fishing vessels in Bristol Bay in anticipation of the 2019 Bristol Bay salmon fishery season.
The Coast Guard anticipates sending examiners to the following locations for public outreach and to encourage dockside exam participation:
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 radio 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 at 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.
In 2018, several fishermen died after falling overboard. None of them were wearing life jackets. The Coast Guard continues to strongly recommend that all fishermen wear life jackets when on the deck of any vessel.
Vessel operators are reminded of the requirements for operating a vessel upon the navigable waters of Bristol Bay.
We are addressing navigational safety concerns and risk mitigation measures for vessels operating in the Naknek River.
In January 2018, the Coast Guard participated in an industry-led navigation safety workshop composed of Bristol Bay commercial fishermen and tug/barge industry members who developed the safety measures and reminders on the International Navigation Rules for the Responsibilities for Vessels, Anchoring, Tug/Barge Pre-Arrival Notifications, Navigation Lights and Communication.
Any vessel found in violation of these or any of the International Navigation Rules is subject to enforcement action by the Coast Guard and can result in civil penalties and monetary fines.
“Coast Guard dockside examinations are free, take about half an hour, ensure compliance with all federal regulations and can reduce the likelihood of getting boarded at sea,” said Scott Wilwert, fishing vessel safety coordinator for the Coast Guard 17th District. “Take the time, don’t pay a fine.”
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.