Safety exams become mandatory for fishing vesselsA once voluntary exam for fishing vessels will be mandatory by 2015. All commercial fishing vessels operating more than three miles offshore need to pass a dockside safety exam, a law passed as part of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012.
By: By Joe Gigliotti/Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
A once voluntary exam for fishing vessels will be mandatory by 2015.
All commercial fishing vessels operating more than three miles offshore need to pass a dockside safety exam, a law passed as part of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012.
Lt. Bill Fitzgerald with the Marine Safety Unit in Duluth says the inspection covers many important details. “Lifejackets, survival suits, life rings, flairs, and then we’re also looking at firefighting equipment, and then just the general safety of the vessel.”
The exam is required by October 2015, and must be done every five years. Fitzgerald says while making the exam mandatory is new, the exam itself isn’t. It’s been around since 1990. He says the Twin Ports fishing community seems to be on board with the change.
“We haven’t received any negative feedback as far as the requirement, and we’ve been engaging with the fishing community, as well as tribal interests who operate fishing vessels,” he said.
Fitzgerald says possible penalties for unexamined vessels could be less if they’re up to par with safety requirements.
“If everything is as it should be, in compliance, then the enforcement action just for not obtaining the dockside exam probably won’t be too severe, at least not initially,” Fitzgerald said. “Potentially there could be civil penalties and fines associated with that.”
But for unexamined vessels that don’t meet requirements, penalties may be more severe.
“If the boarding officer underway discovers that some equipment is missing or not serviceable, then, potentially, there could be significant fines associated with that, as well as termination of the voyage,” he said.
Operators can call the Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit in Duluth to schedule the free exam, and find more information on the requirements at fishsafe.info.