The Coast Guard assisted representatives of the Washington and Oregon Departments of Fish and Wildlife patrol the waters of the Pacific Northwest during the pre-soak period of the commercial Dungeness Crab season, which opens Jan. 4, 2015.
The Dungeness Crab Season begins Monday from the California/Oregon border north to Destruction Island, Washington including Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor. The Northern Washington to U.S./Canada border Dungeness Crab season will begin at a date to be announced later, but no sooner than January 15.
There are an estimated 225 Washington permitted vessels expected to participate in crabbing and an estimated 425 Oregon permitted vessels and there are 75 vessels that are permitted in both Oregon and Washington.
Although the Dungeness Crab season will remain open through the summer of 2016, historically up to 50 percent of the annual catch may be landed in the first two weeks of the season, with 80 to 90 percent harvested during the first 2 to 3 months. Due to the one month delay to the season start, if catch rates are successful activity may remain moderate to heavy through early March.
Crabbing is a state regulated fishery, so the Coast Guard assists its partner agencies when called upon with personnel or assets to patrol the fishing grounds. The Coast Guard's primary concern is the safety of the fishing fleet. This is accomplished through both preventative measures, such as mandatory dockside safety examination requirements and voluntary training programs, and rapidly responding to marine casualties if and when they occur to save lives and property.
"Dungeness crab season coincides with some of the most dangerous sea conditions we encounter on the Pacific Northwest Coast and every year the Coast Guard responds to numerous cases of vessels in distress,” said Capt. Dan Travers, Commander Coast Guard Sector Columbia River. “Having the proper safety and survival equipment up to date and installed properly could be the difference between life and death."
The Coast Guard will be on high alert for increased search-and-rescue concerns that is associated with this fishery, and will also enforce applicable laws and safety regulations.