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Coast Guard says free dockside exams could help Bristol Bay fishers avoid tickets

Brian Venua/KDLG

The exams are meant to address safety issues that may be present before the season gets underway. 

The Coast Guard has begun its dockside exams for fishing vessels in Bristol Bay this season.

The exams are meant to address safety issues that may be present before the season gets underway. The Coast Guard will not issue fines or any other penalties for problems they discover at the docks or before boat launches.

The Coast Guard says these exams can reduce the likelihood of big fines and penalties later in the season. That's because the exams ensure the vessels are in compliance with federal regulations. Petty Officer Nate Littlejohn said examiners will check for safety gear.

“We will be looking at things such as flares, charts, navigational signals, fire extinguishers, emergency position radio beacons, serviceability of immersion suits, that type of thing. These examinations are free," he said.

Fishermen can signal they are ready for an exam by running a buoy up high on the mast or on the anchor or bow.

Littlejohn said those boats are also much less likely to undergo a Coast Guard inspection once they’re out at sea.

“Because if you pass, you earn a decal that you can display in your window, and if the Coast Guard sees that, the likelihood of you getting boarded just goes down substantially. But more importantly than that, one of these exams could save your life,” said Littlejohn. 

Dillingham, Egegik, and King Salmon can expect Coast Guard examiners from June 14-25. The Coast Guard visited King Cove, Sand Point, Port Moller, and Chignik from June 1-7.

To schedule an exam in Dillingham, call 907-764-5071. For Egegik exams, call 907-538-8062. For King Salmon and Naknek, call either 907-717-6270 or 907-538-9748.

The Coast Guard also encourages fishers to register for one-day Fishing Vessel Drill Conductor classes through the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association, which will include practical marine safety training.

The classes will take place in Naknek on June 10 and 11, and in Dillingham on June 12 and 13. You can register or get more information online at www.amsea.org or over the phone by calling 907-747-3287.

For more information on preparing for Coast Guard vessel examinations, operators may visit www.fishsafewest.info.

Contact the author at mackenzie@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200.