U.S. commercial fishing vessels operating beyond three nautical miles offshore will be required to have a U.S. Coast Guard dockside safety examination as of Oct. 16, the Coast Guard said in a press release issued Monday.
“It applies to people fishing to sell fish,” Coast Guard spokesman Ricardo Castrodad said Monday.
Many vessel operators have been proactive and requested to receive Coast Guard safety exams on a volunteer basis, according to Lt. j.g. Juan Ramírez, a commercial fishing vessel safety specialist for the San Juan sector.
“Conducting a dockside safety examination is all about saving lives and improving the safety of our commercial fishing vessel fleet,” that sector’s chief of prevention, Cmdr. David Berliner, added.
“Commercial fishing is the most dangerous maritime occupation in the United States,” he said. “We want every commercial fisherman to come home safely.”
The examination is free 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.
If discrepancies are found during a required examination and not corrected on the spot, they could result in the vessel’s operations being restricted until the vessel complies with all applicable safety requirements.
Commercial fishing vessel owners and operators can review information about the new regulations at the Coast Guard's commercial fishing vessel safety program website, www.fishsafe.info.
Commercial fishing vessel operators are asked to contact their nearest Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety representative to schedule an exam. The number on St. Thomas is772-5557. On St. Croix, call 776-3497.