Tragedy has struck again in the Alaska crab fleet. On January 6, 2009 Keith Criner of Stockton, CA was pulled overboard while fishing on the SEABROOKE, 22 miles northwest of Cold Bay. Reports indicate that Criner got tangled up in a crab pot line while setting gear, and was pulled overboard. The Coast Guard called off the search for the crewman after an extensive air search failed to locate him. The SEABROOKE is home-based in Kodiak, AK. Despite heightened awareness of the need for vessel safety, working as a fisherman in Alaska remains one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. The 2008 year resulted in multiple vessel sinkings, with loss of crewmen’s lives, including the sinking of the Alaska Ranger and the KATMAI.
January 23, 2008 the 78-foot crabbing vessel, Anna Marie, became grounded on the north end of Copalis Beach, WA. No injuries were reported. Attempts continue to try and pull the vessel back to deeper water. 2000 gallons of fuel and 200 gallons of other petroleum products are aboard, and they appear to be secure for the time being.
The Coast Guard will be conducting safety spot checks, voluntary dockside exams, and offering basic safety training in various Northwest ports from November 26-28, 2007 as part of “Operation Safe Crab.”
Coast Guard examiners will be checking that vessels have all the proper safety equipment on board and that proper pot loading practices are being followed. As part of the equipment check they will be looking at survival suits, EPIRBS, and life rafts, to make sure they are ready for use should an emergency at sea occur. Past checks have found that 25% to35% of EPIRBS and life rafts are installed improperly. If any deficiencies are found during these checks the vessel may be restricted from operating until they are corrected.
The ultimate goal of “Operation Safe Crab” is to reduce the number of lives lost at sea. Commercial Dungeness crabbing vessels have the highest fatality rate of any West Coast fishery.
At 1:30 am on February 7, 2006, the Coast Guard received a VHF call. Two red flares were spotted near Tillamook Bay, Oregon. A Jayhawk helicopter and two 47-foot motor lifeboats were dispatched to the area.
Debris was found identifying the vessel as the Catherine M., a 45-foot crabber whose homeport was Warrenton, Oregon. The body of Jeff King, 30, of Garibaldi, was also found on a nearby beach by a local rescue team, along with a life raft and three survival suits. The bodies of Trona Griffin 30, of Garibaldi, Oregon, and Craig Larson, 31, of Hammond, Oregon, washed ashore in the days following.
The last contact from the crew came the night before the incident, when Craig Larson’s wife spoke to him by phone. She was told the boat was returning to port with around 1,200 pounds of crab.
A 23-year-old man lost most of his hand on a fishing vessel near Akutan Island on Monday night, the Coast Guard said.
Louis Acosta was on the 120-foot Trailblazer, homeported in Newport, Ore., when the incident occurred near the island, Lt. Mara Booth-Miller said. She said the Coast Guard was still investigating and it did not immediately know how the accident happened.
Booth-Miller said the boat was fishing for Alaska Seafood Producers.