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Media Contact: (907) 463-2065

17th District Public Affairs

U.S. Coast Guard

News Release

Date: June 10, 2013

Contact: Ensign Victoria Swinghamer

Office: (907) 271-6741

Coast Guard offers dockside safety exams to fishermen in Bristol Bay, Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Coast Guard is partnering with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association to offer commercial fishing vessel safety exams in Bristol Bay communities starting Monday through June 20.

Examiners will arrive in Dillingham, King Salmon/Naknek and Egegik Monday. Fishermen can sign up for an exam by calling Coast Guard Sector Anchorage, at 907-538-4103, or by speaking directly with one of the Coast Guard examiners working in Dillingham, Egegik and King Salmon's harbors. 

These free exams give fishermen an opportunity to find and address any safety issues that may be present before they get underway to ensure their safety at sea. The examiners will not issue fines or other penalties for any problems they discover at the dock. The exams focus on man overboard procedures, life jacket use and drill conductor classes, as well as general safety items such as flares, charts, navigational signals, fire extinguishers, emergency position indicating locator beacons, life rafts, and the serviceability of immersion suits to name a few. 

Each vessel that passes a dockside exam earns a decal. Fishermen operating vessels with recently-issued decals benefit by being prepared to meet Coast Guard or Alaska State Trooper law enforcement boarding requirements.

Coast Guard enforcement assets will be on scene during the opener and into the 2013 Sockeye Salmon season to ensure the safety of all crewmembers working on the water. The Alaska State Troopers will be running fisheries enforcement operations concurrently with the Coast Guard.

"The Coast Guard intends to provide a coordinated and multi-faceted posture during this year’s opener," said Capt. Paul Mehler III, commander, Coast Guard Sector Anchorage. “By working with our partner agencies and offering exams in the cities where the majority of the fleet homeports, we hope to reach as many fishermen as we can. Our goal is to keep our fishermen as safe as possible out there.”

The 2013 Bristol Bay sockeye salmon fishery opened on June 1 with the majority of the fishing taking place from June 15 to July 15. Approximately 1,200 vessels are registered to participate in this year’s fishery. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is forecasting a total sockeye salmon run of 26.03 million fish with a commercial harvest of 17.53 million.

Fatal drowning deaths due to gear entanglement and falls overboard have been a specific concern during this fishery in past years. 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 a life jacket when on the deck of any vessel.

For more information on commercial fishing vessel safety please visit http://www.fishsafe.info 

Additional information regarding the Bristol Bay salmon fishery can be found at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=fishingCommercial.main.

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