June 15, 2015

The sinking of a 73-foot commercial fishing vessel off the coast
of Alaska underscores the importance of having good training
and necessary equipment. All four commercial fishermen were
saved, thanks to a Coast Guard search and rescue team
operating out of Air Station Sitka.

Proper crew response in an accident, whether it involves alert
damage control for flooding or proper first-aid for an injured
shipmate, can make all the difference in the world. According to
the Coast Guard, the fishermen acted prudently here. They did
what well-trained commercial mariners should do in the event of
an accident at sea. They put out a Mayday call, put on their
immersion suits, and abandoned ship. See a video of the rescue
at the
U.S.C.G. 17th District .  

Accidents and injuries can be serious threats on the high seas,
particularly in the hostile and unforgiving environment in which
many commercial fishermen work. The four commercial
fishermen were reported to be in good condition. Following the
rescue, the Command Duty Officer at Juneau said, “This case is
a perfect example of why exams are crucial for the safety of
fishermen.” Ref: U.S.C.G.

As many commercial fishermen already know, as of October 15,
2015, safety exams will be mandatory for vessels operating
beyond three nautical miles offshore. The exams take into
consideration the size of the vessel, the waters in which it
operates, the distance offshore, the number of people onboard,
the configuration, power plant, equipment, and type of fishery.

A significant issue addressed by the October 15, 2015
requirements is survival craft, in which the provisions of from 46
USC §4502(b)(2)(B) are modified by deleting the words “lifeboats
or liferafts,” and replacing them with, “a survival craft that
ensures that no part of an individual is immersed in water...” This
means that all commercial fishing industry vessels operating
beyond 3 nautical miles of the base line or the coastline of the
Great Lakes will be required to carry a survival craft that keeps
people out of the water (i.e., a lifeboat, inflatable liferaft, or
inflatable buoyant apparatus)

Ref: http://www.uscg.mil/d13/cfvs/PDFs/MSIB_CFVSReq.pdf

Read more about the Marine Safety Information Bulletin for the
Implementation of New Requirements for Commercial Fishing
Vessels under
Maritime Law Update - Commercial Fishing Safety.

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