The Coast Guard is advising commercial fishermen they are required by law to notify Coast Guard watchstanders prior to crossing a bar between sunset and sunrise when bar restrictions are in place for recreational or uninspected passenger vessels of the same length.
Prior to crossing a restricted bar, commercial fisherman must notify the Coast Guard on VHF-FM channel 16 or 22A and provide their vessel name, position, number of people aboard, their destination and any vessel limitations. Then, after crossing, they are required to report a safe transit or otherwise.
"Since 2016, five commercial fishing vessels have capsized while crossing a restricted bar along the Oregon Coast, tragically resulting in the loss of life of 10 mariners," said Lt. Carl Eschler, investigations division, Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Portland. "Had the Coast Guard been aware that these vessels were crossing the bar when these hazardous conditions were present, Coast Guard assets could have been on scene and ready to assist as needed to ensure a safe crossing of the bar.
"Contacting the Coast Guard prior to crossing a restricted bar between sunset and sunrise is more than just a good idea for commercial fishermen, it is a requirement."
Operators are also reminded that they shall ensure all persons on deck, or located in any open areas of the vessel, are wearing life jackets or immersion suits while crossing a restricted bar.
Life jackets or immersion suits are required to be readily accessible for all persons located in any enclosed spaces of vessels when crossing a bar with restrictions in place. Life jackets are also required whenever a vessel is under tow or while being escorted across the bar by the Coast Guard.
Failure to comply with these requirements may result in a maximum civil penalty of $25,000.