If you hear a nearby vessel is in trouble, what do you do? For fishermen and other seamen, it's usually a no-brainer: you see how you can help.
Recreational marijuana is now legal all along the Pacific coast of the U.S., from California to Alaska. But when you head off the coast, whether on a commercial fishing boat or your friend's skiff, your marijuana needs to stay ashore.
Commercial fishing will always be a dangerous job choice but the number of fatalities is rapidly declining. In fact, for the first time in known history there were zero fatalities through the federal fiscal year of October 2014 through September 2015. To put this into perspective, an average of 31 fishermen died per year at sea in the 80s. Those numbers began to decline through the 90s and are now are now down to zero this past fiscal year. The rapid decline in fatalities can be attributed to improved safety conditions for workers, especially due to significant changes in design and use of personal flotation devices.
As defined by 46 U.S.C.S. 10101(3), a "seaman" is someone who is employed in a substantial capacity on a vessel, whether as captain or other type of crew member. A seaman's employment is connected to an operating vessel and, as such, is sea-based. Just a few of the many types of seamen includes fishers, processors working on board a vessel, ship master, vessel cook, and cabin steward. Exclusions to the "seaman" definition are scientific personnel, sailing school instructors, and sailing school students.
Some parts of the U.S. enjoy fair weather most of the year. In other areas, such as here in the Pacific Northwest, the warmer, sunny days are just beginning. Either way, pleasure boating season is upon us in the northern hemisphere. For most, it will indeed be a pleasure, give or take a few sunburns. But, with the all the fun, there's also a lot of responsibility.
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.
During the past week, the Coast Guard escorted two fishing vessels back to Alaskan ports after finding safety problems during at-sea safety inspections. One of the vessels had expired fire extinguishers, two of which were inoperable due to water corrosion; the other vessel had cracks in the vessel buoyant apparatus and was missing survival suits. Now the operators of these vessels must address these problems and pass a dockside safety exam before getting underway again to fish.
On December 20, 2012, President Obama signed into law the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012 (H.R. 2838). The Act went into effect on the first of this year. This bill reverses the previously proposed cuts to U.S. Coast Guard funding, site, and personnel and instead designates to the Coast Guard $8.6 billion for fiscal year 2013 and $8.7 billion for fiscal year 2014 for its service operations.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) defines an enclosed space as an area with limited openings, poor ventilation, and not designed for continuous occupancy. One source used by the U.S. Navy lists the four top major risks in enclosed areas as oxygen deficiency, hydrogen sulphide, carbon monoxide, and explosive gases in general. Another source includes trip/fall hazards and residual toxic vapors left over from previous cargoes on their list. OSHA also provides a helpful fact sheet for those working aboard fishing vessels.
The updated, completed National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) report on commercial fishing fatalities in the U.S. is in. There were 39 fatalities in the fishing industry reported for 2011. The number reported for 2010 was 38.