The 2010 commercial salmon season is set to open the 1st of July after two years of being closed. In anticipation of this opening, US Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary personnel will be walking the docks on the 22nd and 23rd June offering free no-fault exams and safety checks. Examiners are scheduled to be present at Moss Landing, Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay, San Francisco, Bodega Bay and Fort Bragg from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Actual times may vary based response from fishermen for exams.
Vessels that pass the dockside exam receive a Coast Guard Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Decal. The benefit of obtaining a safety decal is a lower probability of getting boarded at sea. In the event a fishing vessel with a decal does get boarded at sea it may be an abbreviated inspection. Fishing vessels without a valid safety decal may experience longer at-sea boardings as these inspections are more thorough.
Vessel operators who do not have the time to get a complete safety exam can opt for an abbreviated dockside safety spot check. The benefit of a safety spot check is that it focuses on major safety items that Coast Guard boarding officers emphasize on during at-sea boardings. These are safety items that may otherwise create especially hazardous conditions requiring a vessel's voyage to be terminated. The Coast Guard will have increased random patrols during the season opening to monitor for safety violations and for search and rescue response.
The goal of the USCG is to verify that fishing vessels have the proper safety equipment on board and in serviceable condition. A dockside exam will help minimize any potential delays or termination of voyages by identifying and correcting problems at the dock before going out to sea. All dockside exams are voluntary, boarding at sea however is not voluntary and is random in nature.
More commercial fishing safety information is available at www.fishsafe.info