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Coast Guard crews prepare for crabbing season

Crew members said when the weather gets worse, rescues can become even harder.

Posted: Dec 10, 2019 6:10 PM

FLORENCE, Ore. – With crabbing season set to start at the end of the month, members of the U.S. Coast Guard are training to help keep people safe on the water.

Officials said heading into winter months, conditions on the water can become more treacherous.

Senior Chief Jay Nilles said crews are out on the water every day training for any scenario, patrolling the Siuslaw River, monitoring water conditions and enforcing safety regulations.

Nilles said in Florence, they typically perform about 20 to 25 rescues a year, but he said other stations along the coast could see closer to 100.

Crew members said when the weather gets worse, those rescues can become even harder.

"For us in the maritime industry and conducting rescues, we're basically the firefighters on the water,” Nilles said. “When someone is in distress, they can become very stressed. It's a high-stress situation for them and getting to actually save someone is very rewarding."

Nilles said it's important for fishermen and recreational boaters to always be on high alert, pay attention to the weather, have the proper gear handy and be ready in case conditions turn in an instant.

Fishermen also said they are gearing up for the upcoming season.

"We go through safety drills, and we have a full Coast Guard inspection to make sure that all the vessels are supposed to go through for pre-season prep,” said Stuart Schuttpelz, a fisherman out of Winchester Bay. “It's highly important for the coast to have the Coast Guard and the fleet definitely needs them,” he added.

According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the opening of the commercial Dungeness crab fishing is delayed at least through Dec. 30.

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