United States Coast Guard Fishing Vessel Safety Examiner, Scott Wilwert, addressed several Petersburg vessel owners and fishermen to explain the criteria for the mandatory dockside examinations Nov. 28.
The Coast Guard is requiring all commercial fishing vessels that operate or fish more than three miles from the territorial sea baseline to complete a mandatory dockside exam as of Oct. 16. This requirement was mandated by the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010. This includes any full-time commercial fishing vessel as well as recreational vessels while operating with a commercial permit to sell their catch.
“The purpose of my trip here to Petersburg is the status of acquiring an examiner for this area,” Wilwert said. “Bruce Jones will be performing these examinations in the future.”
Wilwert explained that if you are operating seaward of the three mile line you are required to have a mandatory dockside exam, and that will take place at an interval of every two years.
“For the purposes of the exam,” Wilwert stated. “If you find yourself and all of your business and travels take you shoreward of the three-mile line, you are not a mandatory exam candidate.”
He also explained that regardless of whether you are a mandatory exam candidate or not, the carriage requirements still apply to all vessels.
“If you are in the interior, you will still need to carry the things you are required to carry for safety purposes,” Wilwert said. “All vessel owners are still more than welcome to get a voluntary exam, nothing has changed in that regard. We are not looking to do things differently. It is the same exam, we just have to view it differently now for those operating outside the three-mile line.”
Dockside examinations are free of charge, and currently no penalties will be issued for discrepancies.
“If discrepancies are found,” Wilwert stated. “The vessel owners will be issued a work list and a reasonable time to correct any issues. The goal is to bring commercial fishermen into compliance while minimizing disruption to fishing.”
Fishermen can use the Coast Guard's online checklist generator to prepare for an examination. By answering questions about the vessel, the checklist generator provides a list of items that can be used to prepare for an exam. This checklist generator can be found at www.uscg.mil/d13/cfvs or a link can be found to this generator through Petersburg Vessel Owners Association’s website.