Credit:  wintercroft.com

A second marine safety bulletin issued by the Coast Guard in late March reminds mariners that they will enforce the requirement that all U.S. fishermen must wear masks while on the job.

The Center for Disease Control mask requirement has been interpreted by the Coast Guard to apply to “all forms of commercial maritime vessels,”  including cargo ships, fishing vessels, research vessels and self-propelled barges.” It requires “all travelers” to wear a mask, including those who have been vaccinated.  Not doing so could mean restricted access to ports and operations, along with civil or criminal penalties.

Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan called the rule “stupid” at a ComFish forum last week and vowed to get the mask rule repealed.

“Now we have another stupid regulation that our fishermen need to wear masks. Senator Murkowski and I have been pressing this relentlessly on a call with the Coast Guard commandant, a call with the White House guy who’s supposedly in charge of all the CDC issues, we had a meeting with the head of the CDC, we are trying to explain to them how, no offense, but just how stupid this is and how uninformed it is. And it could be a safety issue, not with regard to COVID, but with having to wear masks when you’re out on the deck of a ship in 30 foot waves trying to bring in gear or pots. So, we’re going to continue to work on that one.”

The mask rule “makes no sense” said Doug Vincent-Lang, Commissioner of the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game. He said he is building support for a repeal with other coastal states

 “The CDC has planted their heels on this one as I understand it. Certainly, from a realistic standpoint, it makes no sense. So we’re on the front side of that conversation. I think to the extent that we can form some kind of a unified position on this issue across more states, we stand a better chance of changing it. Because this is a CDC guidance which can be changed depending upon how they get policy direction from the White House. And if they hear from other coastal states in addition to Alaska, they’ll probably be more inclined to do it.”

Meanwhile, National Fisherman editor Jes Hathaway added: “Why commercial fishing vessels have been included in a requirement written for airplanes, trains, subways, buses, taxis, ride-shares, trolleys, and cable cars has yet to be explained by the Coast Guard.”

Feedback on the masking rule can be given at wearamask@uscg.mil.

 

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