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 www.aleutianseast.org
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.