Fall arrived last week, and the deadline for mandatory dockside inspections for fishing boats is coming right behind it.

Fishing boats that fish more than 3 miles offshore, a group that includes a significant portion of the Maine lobster fleet, must complete a Coast Guard safety inspection no later than Thursday, Oct. 15. The requirement also applies to fishing boats that carry more than 16 on board, uncommon now in Maine, wherever they operate.

Boats that passed inspections after Jan. 1, 2013, don’t have to meet the October deadline. They are exempt for five years from the date on which Coast Guard inspectors issued a sticker indicating that the boat had passed a voluntary safety examination. In a letter sent to all commercial fishing vessel owners and operators in August, the Coast Guard told them to arrange to have their boats re-inspected to ensure that they meet the latest safety requirements.

Owners and operators of boats boarded by the Coast Guard and found not in full compliance with the latest regulations may be subject to a civil fine. The Coast Guard may also terminate the vessel’s voyage.

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