USCG Reauthorization Legislation Has Crucial Provisions for Fishermen

The US Coast Guard reauthorization legislation – HR 2838 –
which passed the US House and Senate earlier in December, contains several crucial
provisions for commercial fishermen. They are outlined in the Aleutians East
Borough’s online “Fish News,” which
is online at
HR 2838 continues the existing moratorium on vessel
discharge permits for another year, through December 2014. This means all sizes
of commercial fishing vessels and commercial use vessels under 79 feet will not
be mandated to have a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit
until December 2014.
The reauthorization legislation now requires that all
commercial fishing vessels have dockside examinations by Oct. 15, 2015, and at
least once every five years thereafter. That compares with the current
provision requiring all vessels be examined by October 2012, and at least once
every two years thereafter.
The legislation eliminates a requirement that the safety
training course results for those operating beyond three miles be made
available on a publically accessible database. It also changes the date
requirement for fishing vessel load line requirements from do not apply “unless
the vessel was built after July 1, 2012” to “unless the vessel was built after
July 1, 2013.
HR 2838 also changes the date requirement for American
Bureau of Shipping-type certification for vessels operating beyond three miles
at sea and that are at least 50 feet overall in length from “after July 1, 2012
to “after July 1, 2013.”
The legislation includes major provisions that prevent the
Coast Guard from scrapping the heavy icebreaker Polar Sea until it completes an
analysis of costs for extending the service life of the vessel and requires the
Polar Sea to be returned to active duty if it makes business sense.
And the legislation authorizes the Coast Guard to study the
feasibility and potential of establishing a deep-water seaport in the Arctic to
protect US interests within the Arctic region.