After Oct. 16, all commercial fishing vessels operating
beyond three nautical miles will be required to have a periodic dockside exam from the Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment.
“We’re going to go from a voluntary inspection program to a mandatory inspection,” Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffry Crews said. “It’s been mandated by Congress.”
This change is part of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010, which requires dockside safety examinations once every two years.
If the inspections go well, the vessels will receive a “certificate of compliance” stating that they have had their inspections and are complying with standards.
“If they get stopped and have no decal they will get sent back to the pier until they have the decal,” Crews said.
If a fishing vessel doesn’t have the required certificate onboard or is operating in an unsafe condition, it will be required to go back to the docks to wait until the condition is corrected and a new certificate is issued.
Waiting until the week before the deadline to get an inspection could cause lengthy delays, meaning people will lose valuable fishing time and money.
There are only six inspectors that take care of Kodiak, Sand Point and King Cove. Crews estimates around 900 to 1,000 boats still need inspections.
If the vessels are missing safety gear, owners could also be competing for the gear, which could be hard to find in Kodiak.
“If they have items they need to correct there may be a large number who may fight for safety gear,” Crews said.
Checklists are available in advance so vessel owners can prepare for the inspections.
Laine Welch, who writes a fisheries column for Alaska newspapers, believes most fishermen in Kodiak are aware of the new inspection requirements, but are probably not thinking about the deadline that is quickly approaching.
“I don’t think it’s on people’s minds,” Welch said. “I think people are busy fishing now. It seems to be human nature to procrastinate.”
The inspection program started as a voluntary program in 1995, but the program worked so well that people wanted to make it mandatory to prevent further loss of life.
When the program was voluntary, the Kodiak Marine Safety Detachment conducted between 130 and 150 voluntary checks each year.
Checks typically take between 30 and 45 minutes. To schedule a safety inspection before the deadline, call Marine Safety Detachment Kodiak at 654-4069.