The U.S. Coast Guard will be conducting safety checks along the coast of Northern California this week in preparation for the upcoming start of crab season.
Beginning Wednesday and continuing through Friday, Coast Guard personnel will perform the safety checks and exams of ports in the area between Crescent City near the Oregon border and Morro Bay on the Central Coast.
Crab season from the Morro Bay area to the Russian River begins Saturday, according to the Coast Guard. For the area from the Russian River to the Oregon border the season starts Dec. 1.
Personnel will walk the docks, encouraging voluntary exams, and crab vessels will be spot-checked for the required equipment and protocol.
Chris Lawson president of the local commercial fishermen's association, is expecting a lower catch this year, compard to the fairly heavy harvests over the past six seasons.
Lawson bases his prediction on results reported by recreational crabbers, whose season is already under way. He also looks to the low number of juvenile crabs seen during last year's harvest as a clue to this year's catch.
Many newer crab fishermen in Bodega Bay have not experienced a bad season, Lawson told The Santa Rosa Press Democrat. But, he says, "They're about to see one."
According to the Coast Guard, commercial crab fishing is one of the most dangerous jobs in the country and safety checks of this kind can greatly reduce the risk of casualties.