Changes Proposed to Boost Safety of Commercial Fishing

The U.S. Coast Guard published an advance notice of proposed rulemarking in today's Federal Register that outlines several steps to make commercial fishing safer. The Bush administration approved the ANPRM on March 21, the service said in a news release posted on its Web site.

The recommendations differ depending on vessel length and where they operate, but most of the recommended changes apply to the largest boats: regular stability assessments, more frequent safety training, and a wider mandate to stock vessels with immersion suits are included. The proposal requests comments by July 29 and is signed by Brian M. Salerno, rear admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, and assistant commandant for Marine Safety, Security and Stewardship. USCG said it "has identified several areas that repeatedly lead to commercial fishing as being the country's most hazardous occupation. Stability and watertight integrity issues continue to account for the majority of vessel losses. Most casualties are related to crew members entering the water. Maintenance of vessels has also been identified as a significant issue leading to vessel losses.

"While there have been improvements in safety within the industry since the commercial fishing vessel safety regulations were published in 1991, casualty rates remain unacceptably high. Crew safety training and drills have been advocated by the Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Safety Advisory Committee and the Coast Guard supports an expansion of current requirements."

To read the ANPRM, go to www.gpo.gov/su_docs/aces/fr-cont.html

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