A federal bill signed into law this fall is setting up some big changes for commercial mariners including the fishing industry. The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 includes some long-term goals, some of which may take a decade to implement, but others that are likely to come online much sooner.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Sara Francis says Congress is hoping to make the seas safer by tightening up safety regulations. But just how this will be accomplished is something that remains to be worked out.
— (regulations 1 :40 "It’s very broad … the jobs that they do.")
The Coast Guard is partnering with various groups that includes the maritime industry to draft regulations; Francis offers some examples.
— (regulations 2 :27 "To give you an idea … newly built vessels.")
But another big change would be to end the exemption of fishing vessels from being certified by a classification society such as the American Bureau of Shipping, though boats less than 50 feet would likely remain exempt. The legislation also envisions requiring vessels over 79 feet to obtain a "load line" that demarcates where cargo, including fishing gear, can be placed on deck.
— (regulations 3 :28 "And so right now fishing … load line and class.")
Those new requirements likely won’t be brought in before 2018 but the regulations will be written over the next few years.
— (regulations 4 :30 "Obviously there’s a lot … draggers associations.")
Francis added that the Coast Guard plans to hold a number of public forums around the country, though the times and places have not yet been announced.