National Fisherman

Boats & Gear 

Michael CrowleyThe Boats & Gear blog is overseen by our Boats & Gear editor, Michael Crowley. It explores new construction projects, electronics, gear and equipment for the commercial fishing industry.

If you have wanted to build a boat and have the money stashed away or there’s a group of willing investors, now would be a smart time to build that boat. Smart because if you wait until after July 1, 2012, the same boat — as long as it is 50 feet or longer — will cost a lot more money.

How much more isn’t clear, but estimates run from about 15 to 40 percent.

There are two drivers to the cost increase and both are written into the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010. The intent of the act is to make commercial fishing safer.

One requires boats 79 feet and longer built after July 1, 2012, to meet new load-line standards. The second requires classification for boats 50 feet and over that operate beyond three miles and are built after July 1, 2012.

Some of the increased cost is the result of bringing more people into the process. What would currently be a discussion between you, the designer and the boatyard would also involve a classification society. This also drags out the time it takes to design a boat.

Further, every few years the boat will have to be hauled and surveyed. Some surveys will be more extensive than others. You will pay for the survey and cover the travel and work-time costs of the classification society’s representative.

Currently, no classification society — or any other group — has come out with a fully developed list of guidelines for classing a commercial fishing boat or building one to load-line standards. Though DNV has developed a preliminary 130-page book of best construction and design practices. ABS seems to be sitting on its hands and doing little or nothing.

Regional standards would be appropriate to the risks posed to the boats in a particularly dangerous fishery. The basis of the standards might be based on the best designing and building practices in a fleet.

Unfortunately, to date the impetus for the load-line and classing sections of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 have been driven by politicians. The fishing industry — be it fishermen, naval architects or boatbuilders — has not been a part of the process.

It’s not too late for the industry to get involved. Contact the Coast Guard and classification societies, especially DNV. In November, Seattle’s Pacific Marine Expo will have seminars focusing on these issues. That would be a good time for fishermen and boatbuilders to make their concerns known. Not to do so will just make the final requirements much more onerous than they already are.

In the meantime, pick up the October 2011 issue of National Fisherman for more information.

National Fisherman Live

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Panama fines GM salmon company Aquabounty
Gulf council passes Reef Fish Amendment 40
Maine elver quota cut by 2,000 pounds
Offshore mussel farm would be East Coast’s first

 

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