US Coast Guard officials are reminding the public that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is seeking public and industry comment on a proposed rulemaking regarding chances to Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act National Standard 10. That standard requires management councils to take into consideration the safety of human life at sea when developing fishery management plans. The comment period will close on July 20. Coast Guard officials said they would like to see this notice distributed as widely as possible to the commercial fishing industry in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.
A public meeting on the matter is set for May 19 at the NOAA Science Center in Silver Spring, Maryland. For information on submitting comments contact Debra Lambert NMFS, at 301-713-2341.
Internet links to the matter are at http://www.fishsafe.info/ and in the Federal Register/Vol . 76, No. 77/ Thursday, April 21, pages 22342-44.
The Federal Register entry notes that current National Standard 10 guidelines are 13 years old, and that fisheries management and fishing vessel safety science in general has evolved over that time period. The Federal Register item goes on to say that NOAA has new fishery management requirements and policies in place and that implementation of these measures will lead to changes in the way fishing operations are managed. Major changes in fisheries management that change the way fishing operations are conducted, including catch share programs, could impact the safety of fishermen at sea, and those impacts should be assessed during the management process, the document says.
The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010, signed into law by President Obama last October, authorizes the Coast Guard to examine at dockside at least once very two years fishing vessels that operate beyond three miles from shore, to ensure that they meet safety standards. IT also authorizes and requires a training program for operators of those fishing vessels and establishes design and construction standards for all new vessels. Current National Standard 10 guidelines do NOT contain any guidance on analytical methods to evaluate safety. Recent work by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Coast Guard has shown that the fishery management process can more explicitly address safety at sea by analyzing fatalities and calculating fatality rates for the fishery and understanding the overall trend in fatality rates.