Coast Guard Boarding Team Ends Fishing Boat Excursion in Marine Reserve

SANTA ROSA ISLAND, Calif – On August 1, 2008, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Blackfin and California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) terminated the voyage of a 58-foot fishing vessel in the Carrington Point Marine Reserve off of Santa Rosa Island.

The joint Coast Guard and DFG boarding team observed the vessel conducting net operations inside the marine reserve. While in the marine reserve the fishing vessel illegally caught 907 pounds of sardines and 89,831 pounds of market squid. The seized catch was sold for $31,449.92 and is being held in the DFG Preservation Fund until legal proceedings have concluded. It is possible further administrative actions may be taken against the commercial fishing permit pending legal proceedings. The vessel was safely escorted to Ventura Harbor after the voyage was terminated.

California Code of Regulations Title 14, dictates that a vessel shall be allowed to transit through a marine reserve with catch on board, however, fishing gear shall not be deployed in the water while transiting through a state marine reserve. Additionally, it is unlawful to take marine species in a marine reserve for any purpose including recreational and commercial fishing.

Boardings of commercial fishing industry vessels are routinely conducted by the Coast Guard and DFG. One part of the boarding officer’s responsibility is to assess whether a vessel may present an especially hazardous condition warranting termination of the voyage as well as assess if any state or federal laws have been violated.

The Coast Guard’s outreach program, known as the Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety (CFVS) Program, has established a presence on the Internet at http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/cfvs/Index.htm, in an effort to meet the goal of reducing fatalities in the fishing community. The site provides a wealth of information and aids in the communication between the Coast Guard and the commercial fishing industry.

Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Program coordinators and examiners are available throughout the country and ready to assist in overcoming challenges, including managing risk and balancing demands, to attain full compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

The Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary offer free “no fault” commercial fishing vessel dockside safety exams. These free examinations are thorough vessel checks that examine all safety equipment. The presence of a valid examination decal may reduce the chances of a vessel being boarded or greatly reduce the at-sea boarding time spent on safety checks. The examination is designed to educate the fishing public and to ensure vessel safety. There is no penalty for not passing the exam. However, if the exam is passed, a decal is issued indicating the vessel is in compliance with all applicable Coast Guard regulations. To schedule your free Commercial Fishing Vessel Dockside Safety Exam visit http://www.fishsafe.info/.

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