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  • MLCA

Coast Guard safety measures increase

  1. Safe loading

  2. Safe powering

  3. Flotation requirements

  4. Electrical systems

  5. Fuel systems

  6. Ventilation

  7. Start in gear protection

  8. Navigation lights Construction standards for commercial fishing vessel of at least 50 feet in length come into force on July 1, 2012. These new standards require that all commercial fishing vessels operating beyond 03 miles from land and built after July 1, 2012 must be surveyed and classed by a recognized classification society, for example, American Bureau of Shipping, Lloyd’s Register of shipping, or Det Norske Veritas. Surveying and Classing of your vessel will require close cooperation between the owner, builder and classification society. The new law requires commercial fishing vessels 79 feet or more in length and built or substantially altered after July 1, 2012 to be assigned a Load Line. While the requirements for load lines on commercial fishing vessels is yet to be developed the implementation date is fast approaching. The new law changes the carriage requirements for primary lifesaving equipment. After January 1, 2015 life floats and buoyant apparatus will no longer be accepted for commercial fishing vessels operating beyond 3 nautical miles. When these vessels are required to carry primary lifesaving equipment either an inflatable buoyant apparatus or a life raft, depending on how far offshore they operate, will be required to be carried. With the limited number of authorized life raft servicing facilities here in Maine and New Hampshire the scheduling and servicing of your life raft/inflatable buoyant apparatus will need to be closely coordinated with the servicing facilities. Additional aspects of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 require the Coast Guard to develop and implement new safety regulations. What does this mean to you? If you fish inside the 3 nautical mile line, not much, if you fish beyond the 3 nautical mile line there are some significant changes coming your way. The commercial fishing vessel safety regulations will be the same whether your vessel is state registered or federally documented and the “line” where additional safety requirements become applicable will no longer be the Boundary Line. The Boundary Line will be replaced with the 3 Nautical Mile Line. This line is clearly displayed on most nautical charts. Most of the changes affect commercial fishing vessels operating beyond the 3 nautical mile line. So what are the new requirements for commercial fishing vessels?

  9. All commercial fishing vessels operating beyond the 3 nautical mile line will be required to:

  10. carry a marine radio

  11. carry sufficient medical supplies for the size of the vessel and the area of operation

  12. carry adequate ground tackle (anchor)

  13. The operator of a commercial fishing vessel operating beyond the 3 nautical mile line will be required to:

  14.  maintain a record of emergency equipment maintenance and a log book of the required drills and safety instructions

  15. Complete a training program and possess a valid certificate issued under the program. The training program will include seamanship, stability, collision prevention, navigation, fire fighting and prevention, damage control, personal survival, emergency medical care, emergency drills, and weather. Credit can be given for recent experience in fishing vessel operations. An individual will be required to complete a refresher course every 5 years.

  16. All commercial fishing vessels operating beyond the 3 nautical mile line will be required to complete a dockside examination every 2 years and possess a valid Certificate of Compliance.

  17. The Act also establishes a Fishing Safety Training Grants Program and a Fishing Safety Research Grants Program. The Coast Guard is working to complete this rulemaking, but the process takes time and includes public notice, time to receive comments, and time to implement the new regulations. The Final Rule will state when specific requirements will take effect and could provide for phase-in periods for fishing vessel owners/operators to bring their vessels into compliance with the new regulations. In conclusion, new regulations are coming; some are already here.Stay informed and work within your industry groups to help steer the course of these changes. Lobstermen can call commercial fishing vessel safety examiner Kevin Plowman at 207-780-3256 or 207-899-6278 or email at with any questions or to schedule your free dockside examination.


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