Coast Guard Encourages Fishing Vessel Safety Examinations for the 2013 Halibut and Sablefish Fisheries in Alaska

JUNEAU, Alaska — The Coast Guard is encouraging fishermen to get their commercial fishing vessel safety exams in advance of the upcoming halibut and sablefish fisheries in Alaska.

Mariners can improve their preparedness by getting a free commercial fishing vessel safety exam to ensure they are in compliance with current regulations before the fisheries open on Saturday.


“The Coast Guard strongly encourages fishing vessel owners to complete an exam and get their decal,” said Ken Lawrenson, the Coast Guard 17th District commercial fishing vessel safety coordinator. “Some vessels, including halibut individual fishing quota fishermen, are now required by the National Marine Fisheries Service to have a valid decal prior to carrying a mandatory observer aboard. No decal means no observer. No observer means no fishing.”

In October, it was stated that fishermen operating beyond three nautical miles of the territorial sea baseline were required to have certified Coast Guard safety examinations prior to the start of their respective fishing seasons. This latest round of amendments to the act however, delayed implementation of these mandatory examinations until 2015.

Lawrenson explained that even though these Coast Guard examinations are not yet implemented, it is strongly encouraged that fishermen still get their vessels examined prior to the 2015 cutoff date.

“The Coast Guard strongly encourages fishing vessel owners to complete an exam and get their decal,” said Lawrenson. “Some vessels, including halibut individual fishing quota fishermen, are now required by the National Marine Fisheries Service to have a valid decal prior to carrying a mandatory observer aboard. No decal means no observer. No observer means no fishing.”

Lawrenson stated that fortunately, most of the fishing industry is aware of these requirements.

“We are anecdotally seeing the pools of observed vessels having 80 percent or higher decal compliance,” Lawrenson said. “As always in Alaska, the difficulty in delivering services, such as dockside exams, is distance and accessibility. We are strongly encouraging vessels in remote areas to get their decals at the first opportunity, because there may not be access to an examiner if folks wait to the last minute, especially in these times of budget restrictions.”

Fishermen are also encouraged to visit fishsafe.info and click the link to the checklist generator. This application takes input on the fishing vessel, such as length, persons aboard, where it operates, etc., and generates a list of requirements that apply to that specific fishing vessel. This allows owners to know exactly what the Coast Guard dockside examiner is going to look at before their official examination.

“The whole idea is to minimize the number of visits to a fishing vessel in order to get them into compliance,” said Lawrenson.

For more specific information on the Coast Guard and Marine Transportation Act of 2012 visit: www.fishsafe.info.

To contact local examiners in your area contact:

Juneau: Mr. Scott Wilwert – 907-463-2248

Sitka: Mr. Steven Ramp – 907-966-5620

Ketchikan: Mr. Jim Paul – 907-225-4496 Ext. 233

Valdez: Chief Machinery Technician Steven Blythe – 907-835-7225

Anchorage: Chief Boatswain’s Mate Jon-Michael Jones – 907-271-1954

Kodiak: Petty Officer 2nd Class Aaron Jessup – 907-486-5918

Dutch Harbor: Lt. Jim Fothergill – 907-581-3466

Homer/Kenai: Lt. Sarah Geoffrion – 907-235-3292

Source: USCG