USCG: Commercial fishermen should focus on safety

The Coast Guard 17th District is encouraging commercial fishermen to make safety a top priority following the deaths of four commercial fishermen within the past month.


Commercial fishing in Alaska is inherently dangerous, especially during the harsh winter seasons.

Fishing vessel owners and operators are reminded of the importance of properly maintaining their vessel’s life saving equipment, ensuring that all crewmembers working on deck are wearing personal floatation devices and conducting regular shipboard drills in order to maintain the crew’s proficiency at operating shipboard emergency equipment.

The Coast Guard also encourages owners and operators to review and be knowledgeable of the general maintenance and upkeep of their vessels. Minor hull leaks and machinery failures should be properly repaired and documented. Vessel operators need to be fully aware of the operating constraints that may pertain to their vessels. This includes being aware of the risks of both overloading and operating outside the restrictions of their stability letters and the crew’s ability.

As a reminder, dockside safety exams became mandatory on Oct. 16 for all commercial fishing vessels operating beyond three nautical miles of the territorial sea baseline. If you are an owner or operator of a fishing vessel that has not yet had a Coast Guard dockside safety exam, one can be scheduled by visiting or by contacting the nearest Coast Guard Sector or Marine Safety Detachment:

In Ketchikan, 907 225-4496

In Sitka, 907 966-5454

In Juneau, 907 463-2448

Questions or concerns regarding dockside safety exams can be directed to Ken Lawrenson at (907) 463-2810 office, 907-321-4110 cell or e-mail to


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