As always, I am enjoying gathering your onboard photos for our upcoming Crew Shots issue. This year again we requested shots of your crew on deck wearing their PFDs or other safety gear.

Coast Guard air crew from Newport, Ore., hoists a fisherman after his 28-foot boat sank on May 25, 2014. Coast Guard imageBut access to timely rescue is another key factor in crew safety. One week ago, the Coast Guard announced plans to close its air station in Newport, Ore., and transfer its MH-65 Dolphin helicopter 95 miles south to North Bend, Ore., as of Nov. 30.

According to state Rep. David Gomberg, the move would delay response times to Newport, Waldport and Depoe Bay by about an hour. This year the Newport air station responded to 40 distress calls via helicopter and saved lives in at least five cases. This area hosts nearly 250 commercial fishing boats, including many Dungeness crabbers, one of the deadliest fisheries in the country.

I know fishermen across the country are grateful for the men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard who put their lives at risk to help the crews of at-risk fishing boats. This is in no way a criticism of the Coast Guard and the valuable work they do. However, this decision is literally a life and death matter for hundreds of commercial fishermen.

Tomorrow, Oregon’s delegation staff will meet with Coast Guard representatives in Washington, D.C., and there will be a public forum with the Coast Guard in Newport at 5:30 on Oct. 20 at the community college.

You can sign the petition to keep the air station open or write a letter to:
Admiral Paul Zukunft
Commandant (CG-00)
US Coast Guard Headquarters
2100 2nd St. SW STOP 7000
Washington DC 20593-7000

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Jessica Hathaway is the former editor in chief of National Fisherman.

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