Opening day for the Dungeness Crab season is next Monday, January 15th. At long last, the boats will be going out preparing to drop crab pots on Friday during a pre-soak period through the weekend.
Ordinarily, the season would have started on the first day of December but this year checks indicated that the crabs hadn't filled with meat sufficiently following the annual molt to allow for the December opening.
The Coast Guard is warning those crabbers to check their safety preparations before heading out. Coast Guard Safety Teams have already terminated three commercial fishing vessel voyages within the local area in the last 30 days for substandard safety conditions.
Commercial vessel examiners have been conducting dockside exams during the past several months to increase fleet readiness and head off safety issues that could lead to a tragedy.
Inspector Curt Farrell with the Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Portland is encouraging every commercial crab boat crew to review their "Man Overboard" drill to ensure all crew members know exactly what to do if a crew member should end up in the sea. "A recent casualty shows that discussing or simulating man overboard is not enough", says Farell adding "Don't just learn to get your buddy out of the water, make sure he/she knows how to get 'you' out of the water". Ferrell urges a practiced plan that works.
Dungeness Crab is a state-enforced fishery and the Coast Guard will be assisting the Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division and the Washington Department of Wildlife in protecting the fishery with regular patrols via boats and aircraft.