Coast Guard to require dockside safety examination on commercial fishing vessels operating more than 3 nautical miles offshore

Great Lakes Coast Guard NewsCLEVELAND — The 9th Coast Guard District announced today that a commercial fishing vessel safety exam will be required for all commercial fishing vessels operating beyond three nautical miles offshore.

The dockside exam, which has been administered for more than a decade on a voluntary basis, will be required after Oct. 16 and affects commercial fishing vessels nationwide.

The examination is free of charge and covers regulatory topics including: lifesaving equipment, communications, firefighting and various other operational readiness measures. Vessels that pass the exam are awarded a decal noting compliance with applicable regulations, which remains valid for up to two years. Currently, no fines are assessed if discrepancies are noted when a vessel receives a voluntary dockside safety exam. However, after Oct. 16, a vessel found operating beyond three nautical miles offshore without a valid decal may be subject to enforcement action.

“Fortunately, many commercial fishermen have sought to receive the Coast Guard exams on a voluntary basis,” said Lt. Michael Collet, the 9th Coast Guard District’s commercial fishing vessel coordinator.

“Maintaining compliance with these regulations will help improve safety throughout the U.S. fishing community, which statistically, has been one of the most dangerous occupations in the country.”

Recently, Coast Guard Headquarters released a letter to the commercial fishing industry to explain the dockside safety exam requirements.  The notification letter and other helpful information are available at

Commercial fishermen in the Great Lakes region should contact a commercial fishing vessel examiner at one of the following Coast Guard units to schedule a complimentary dockside exam:

Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Cleveland 216-937-0127
Coast Guard Sector Detroit 313-568-9505
Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Toledo, Ohio 419-418-6030
Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. 906-635-3341
Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Duluth, Minn. 218-720-5286, ext. 109
Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan, Milwaukee 414-474-7127
Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Chicago 630-986-2131
Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Sturgeon Bay, Wis. 920-743-9448
Coast Guard Sector Field Office Grand Haven, Mich. 616-850-2583







The safety examination requirement is one of several mandates established by the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010.  Existing fishing industry vessel safety regulations may be found in 46 CFR, Part 28.

Any questions or concerns can be directed to Lt. Michael Collet, 9th Coast Guard District commercial fishing vessel coordinator, at 216-902-6051 or


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