A commercial fisherman in California has lost his life on Sunday in a crab fishing accident. Two crewmen working on the 47-foot Chief Joseph went overboard in the accident and the captain was able to rescue one of the crewmen but the other man could not be found. After an extensive air and sea search for the missing fisherman the Coast Guard has now called off the search. The facts and circumstances of the accident are not fully known at this time and will likely be the focus of a Coast Guard investigation.
Commercial fishing on the California, Oregon and Washington coast remains an extremely dangerous occupation. Small vessels working in heavy seas compound the risk of injury and death. It is important that all the vessel’s gear be properly maintained and proper safety procedures followed. Crewmen working on deck should wear safety vests. Vessel crews should train and practice what to do in the event of a man overboard situation.
Two other crab fishing vessels required Coast Guard Assistance last week. With four crab fishermen on board, the 57-foot Lori Ann lost power and steering near the Humboldt Bay North Spit. The Coast Guard was able to quickly respond and tow the vessel to port.
The crab boat Gerry B reported they had lost power and their engine room was flooding. The flooding apparently impacted the vessel’s electronics and left the vessel unable to communicate with the Coast Guard helicopter until an emergency radio was lowered by the helicopter crew to the crew aboard the sinking vessel. The Coast Guard was able to lower pumps to the crewmen and the Gerry B’s sinking was avoided.
Crab fishing vessels should have back up emergency equipment where ever possible. Portable handheld VHF radio are an important safety tool for the crew of any sinking vessel. Fortunately, in this case disaster was avoided.