New Coast Guard rules are now in effect that will impact commercial fishing vessels working in waters more than three miles from shore. It is now mandatory for those boats to have a dockside safety exam every two years.
Until October 16th, dockside exams had been voluntary, but that’s when a new requirement outlined in the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 went into effect.
Dennis Sullivan is Chief Warrant Officer at the Coast Guard’s Homer Marine Safety Detachment unit. He says that commercial vessels now fall under the classification of "inspected vessels."
Given the challenging nature of Alaskan waters most commercial fishing boats are already compliant with safety regulations. But Sullivan says the new rule just enforces the need for certain safety equipment to be on board.
"Now it's just being verified by a Coast Guard ... examiner," he said.
He says there was a lot of public outreach leading up to the rule change on October 16th, but still, some people were caught off guard.
The Marine Safety Detachment was moved from Kenai to Homer in April because Sullivan says this is where 75% of the people they do business with work. That makes it convenient to schedule exams and get the word out.
Sullivan says people can stop by their office on Pioneer Avenue inside the old Main Street Mercantile Building to get more information or to schedule an exam. That can also be done by calling 235-3292.