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Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Requirement and Regulation Updates

Back on October 16, 2012, the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 (CGAA) went into effect. Soon afterward, on January 1, 2013, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012 (CGMTA) became law. Both these acts were instituted with provisions that they would be amended and updated as needed over time.

One update is this: Whereas the CGAA mandated that commercial fishing vessels have a current two-year Coast Guard dockside safety exam certificate on board as of last October 16, the CGMTA has extended the deadline for a first mandatory dockside safety exam for certain types of fishing vessels to October 15, 2015, with each subsequent exam to be completed at least once every five years. Because these free-of-charge dockside exams are meant to foster safety, all commercial fishing vessel operators are encouraged to have their boats examined voluntarily before the deadline.

It's important to note that the Coast Guard can conduct an at-sea boarding at any time in U.S. waters to check for general compliance with Title 46 C.F.R. Section 28 (commercial fishing industry vessels), 46 C.F.R Section 42 (load lines), and other applicable regulations. While a voluntary dockside exam may result in a fix-it checklist, it will not result in penalties. However, non-compliance found during an at-sea boarding may include such penalties as fines and termination of voyage.

Another amendment arises from data that about two-thirds of the fishing vessels lost to flooding were older, the hull and equipment of which often were not maintained. Because of this, the CGAA authorizes an Alternate Safety Compliance Program for vessels that are fifty feet or more in overall length, operate beyond the three nautical mile baseline, are 25 or more years old in 2020, and are built on or before July 1, 2012. The program would also apply to certain types of vessels built on or by July July 1, 2012, that undergo substantial change after July 1, 2012. The CGMTA amended this date to July 1, 2013. The Alternate Safety Compliance Programs and the standards set therein are to be outlined for various fisheries and regions by 2017 and implemented by 2020.

A further example is that radio equipment used on commercial fishing vessels must be actual marine radios. Cell phones are not dependable in a marine environment and are not accepted as primary or secondary emergency equipment.

I've touched on just a few of the changes to Title 46 by the CGAA and the CGMTA. The amendment process will continue. Further details on current safety and regulation updates specific to your type of vessel may found at www.fishsafe.info or by contacting your local Coast Guard.

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