Coast Guard prepares fishermen for new safety regulations, meets with Gloucester community

Northeast Atlantic Coast Guard NewsBOSTON — A nationwide Coast Guard initiative will change commercial fishing vessel safety examinations from voluntary to mandatory starting October 16, 2012.

All commercial fishing, fish tender and fish processing vessels that operate or transit more than three nautical miles offshore must be able to demonstrate full compliance with the existing fishing industry vessel safety regulations found in 46 C.F.R. Part 28, with a mandatory safety examination.

This examination requirement is one of several new mandates established by the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010. The Authorization Act establishes a mandatory examination requirement if a commercial fishing vessel is operating beyond three nautical miles of the baseline of the U.S. territorial sea or the coastline of the Great Lakes.

In preparation for the upcoming transition, the Coast Guard has made a concerted effort through letter campaigns, online efforts, and personal outreach to ensure the fishing industry has been made well aware of the upcoming changes.

As Coast Guard units throughout the Northeast continue their outreach, Sector Boston held Commercial Fishing Vessel Industry Day at Station Gloucester, Mass., Wednesday. During the meeting the Coast Guard answered questions, discussed the scope of the exams, addressed scheduling and enforcement, and informed attendees of just how the industry can participate in the rulemaking process for pending safety regulations.

Based on fatality rates, commercial fishing is the most dangerous occupation in the United States. Recognizing the hardships the fishing industry is currently facing, the Coast Guard is facilitating implementation of this new requirement that aims to make the industry safer. The mandate adds no new equipment requirements and the decal will be issued for the same regulations that have been in effect for 20 years.

“This initiative is not in response to any particular incident,” said Coast Guard Sector Boston’s Commercial Fishing Vessel Examinations Branch Chief, John Buckley. “It is designed to make the most dangerous profession in the United States a little bit safer.”

The Coast Guard also encourages all operators to regularly conduct their own safety and survival training. More resources and information are available here:

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