Coast Guard Stresses Commercial Fishing Safety - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

02/15/05

Coast Guard Stresses Commercial Fishing Safety

The US Coast Guard  dropped anchor at the Pass Christian harbor Tuesday to emphasize fisherman safety.

Commerical fishing is often a dangerous job. But the Coast Guard is working to improve safety at sea.

The Coast Guard team used bright orange flares to attract attention to its commercial fishing safety fair. Safety experts shared information and devices that could save lives at sea. Like the E-PIRB: Electronic positioning indicating radio beacon.

"This has been instrumental in several times he last couple years. A boat sinking, the captain has grabbed this and gone into the water and this has actually put out a signal that's strong enough a helicopter has homed in on it," said safety fair coordinator, Mike White.

Aside from advanced technology, the low tech "flare" is also an indispensable piece of safety gear.

"They work real well at night. But they're also a good device during the day. If their boat's out there and they see a helicopter or another boat close by to attract attention," said White.

Safety at sea has long been a serious concern. In fact, groups that study occupational safety have consistently listed commercial fishing as among the most dangerous jobs in the world.

"We'll see if we can get onboard one of these vessels," said Scott Labak, a Coast Guard inspector.

Vietnamese fisherman, Them Do, invites him aboard his boat for a safety check.

Lifejackets are first on the checklist.

"He needs to have a Coast Guard approved light on his jacket. And it needs to be the proper size and type," says the inspector.

"We check the flares to make sure they're in good condition, which these are. And they're not expired," he explained.

Coast Guard inspectors are counting on ongoing education, like the safety fair, to stress the need for all commercial fishermen to stay safe on the water.

By Steve Phillips

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