Fish Radio
New USCG safety regs need input from fishermen
May 18, 2015

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Volunteers are needed to help craft new safety regs. More after this —

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New rules are being written that apply to older fishing boats to make sure they are safe. It’s called the Alternate Compliance Safety Program , a part of the 2010 US Coast Guard Authorization Act.

“The Alternate Compliance Safety Program is aimed at vessels that are 25 years old by 2020 and greater than 50 feet in length, and operating beyond three nautical miles. So this is a new program.”

Troy Rentz is Alternate Safety Compliance Coordinator for the USCG 13th District. The program will include the bulk of Alaska’s fishing fleet, as most boats by far were built between 1970 and 1989.

“The requirements won’t become mandatory until January 1 of 2010 for most vessels. However the Coast Guard needs to proscribe the program by January 1 of 2017.”

Right now, Rentz says safety teams are gathering data on losses from fishing fatalities, injuries and sinkings. From that they will evaluate the risks based on the regions and fisheries.

“We are still gathering that information and that is going to have a big influence on these programs because we know that each fishery has different gear, different risks in different operating environments, fishing at different times of year. So we don’t want one shoe that fits all here – we want programs that are specific to what they are doing, and effective at preventing losses and injuries.”

And that’s where vessel volunteers come in –

“We’re looking for volunteer vessels, where we could get on board and kind of talk about what their best practices are for preventing casualties – or collisions, for instance or falls overboard. We have some pretty good ideas for things that have been recommended, and we want to talk about those things with the vessel owner and see if it would really be something that would be effective for their particular fishery and operating area.”

A requirement of the new safety compliance program, Rentz says, is that it is developed in cooperation with the industry.

“We want people to feel like this is their program, not the Coast guard’s program. It is a cooperative program that is specific to what they are doing and their operations.”

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – serving Alaska’s fishing communities since 1910. On the web at .. In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.