Coast Guard encourages fishing vessel safety exams for upcoming halibut, sablefish fisheries in Alaska

Coast Guard Alaska News
KODIAK, Alaska — With the halibut and sablefish season opening in Alaska Saturday, the Coast Guard encourages mariners to get their free commercial fishing vessel safety exams.

Mariners can improve their preparedness by getting a free exam to ensure they are in compliance with current regulations before the fisheries open.

“Having an exam completed prior to the beginning of the fishery ensures that vessels are meeting the minimum required standards of safety, and that the appropriate lifesaving, firefighting, navigation and signaling gear is aboard prior to operation of the vessel,” said Lt. Erin Cridland, the Coast Guard 17th District inspection and investigation officer.  “Having this equipment greatly reduces the chance of vessel loss and increases the odds of survival should the crew need to abandon ship.”

Mariners should complete these exams annually. It is a good idea to coordinate the exam through their local Coast Guard commercial fishing vessel examiner, and schedule the exam with enough time before the voyage to correct any discrepancies that the examiner identifies. A successful exam will earn the vessel a Coast Guard commercial fishing vessel safety decal good for one year. Commercial fishing vessels operating beyond the three nautical mile territorial sea baseline are not required to have decals until the year 2015, however they are strongly encouraged to obtain them. Some vessels, including those used to pursue halibut individual fishing quotas, are required by the National Marine Fisheries Service to have a valid decal prior to carrying their mandatory NMFS observer aboard.

“Having a decal will reduce the scope of future boardings by Coast Guard law enforcement personnel,” said Cridland. “Coast Guard policy states that vessels with a decal can receive a spot check of certain items. Boarding teams will want to focus on vessels that have not already been visited by the Coast Guard if numerous vessels are fishing in an area.”

Fishermen are also encouraged to visit www.fishsafe.info and click the link to the checklist generator. This application takes input on the fishing vessel, such as length, persons aboard, where it operates, etc., and generates a list of requirements that apply to that specific fishing vessel. This allows owners to know exactly what Coast Guard dockside examiners will look at before their official examination.

For more specific information on the Coast Guard and Marine Transportation Act of 2012 visit: www.fishsafe.info.

To reach an examiner in your area:

Juneau: Mr. Scott Wilwert – 907-463-2248

Sitka: Mr. Steven Ramp – 907-966-5620

Ketchikan: Mr. Jim Paul – 907-225-4496 Ext. 233

Valdez: Chief Machinery Technician Steven Blythe – 907-835-7225

Anchorage: Chief Boatswain’s Mate Jon-Michael Jones – 907-271-1954

Kodiak: Mr. Aaron Jessup – 907-486-5918

Dutch Harbor: Lt. Jim Fothergill – 907-581-3466

Homer/Kenai: Lt. Sara Geoffrion – 907-235-3292

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