The Coast Guard has had several regulations pending. The first deadline just passed. It was Oct. 15 and required your boat to complete a mandatory dockside safety examination. Three more are due by the end of March. If you miss any of them it just might cost you a bunch of money and loss of fishing time. Fortunately, there are a couple of events coming up that should make it easier and perhaps cheaper to meet the requirements.
A regulation that won’t affect that many boat owners requires fishing boats to be equipped with a VHF radiotelephone installation, which must have DSC capability. However, it only applies to boats of 300 gross tons or more.
The DSC equipped VHF has to be hooked up by Jan. 20, 2016. The regulation applies to boats operating within 20 miles of the East, West, and Gulf coasts, as well as Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands. However, Alaska isn’t included, as it does not yet have the infrastructure to support digital selective calling.
A pending requirement due to affect far more fishermen concerns survival equipment and is scheduled to start Feb. 16, 2016. This is part of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 that was to have gone into effect Jan. 1, 2015 but was put off until this coming February.
By Feb. 15, if you don’t have a survival raft that “ensures that no part of an individual is immersed in the water” and you fish outside of three miles, you probably will find your boat tied to the dock.
In other words, ditch that World War II-type raft with its buoyant ring around the outside and webbing stretched across the inside. And get rid of any buoyant apparatus designed to support people in the water.
The last ruling requires commercial fishing boats 65 feet or longer to have an Automatic Identification System installed by March 2, 2016.
The benefit of AIS is that it enhances your awareness of boats operating nearby — as long as they also have an AIS unit — and those same boats know where you are.
Only class-B AIS is required though you can opt for the more effective class-A. The Coast Guard estimates that this ruling affects 2,906 fishing boats.
That many potential sales might be why ACR has just come out with new class-A and class-B AIS transceivers. They are the AISLink CA1 and AISLink CB1. It might also be part of the reason a Swedish outfit received type approval to market its class-B AIS unit starting this summer. It’s the CTRX Graphene.
No matter if you are looking for a VHF radio, inflatable lifesaving equipment an AIS unit or all three, it would be best to buy it as soon as possible, thus avoiding that last minute rush and maybe having to accept a product that’s not your first choice. Again, if you don’t meet the Coast Guard requirement, you will probably pay a penalty for noncompliance.
An event making the task of avoiding being shut down by the Coast Guard easily avoidable and perhaps saving you money on the new equipment is Pacific Marine Expo held in Seattle Nov. 18 – 20. More than 450 exhibitors will be there and many will be carrying just the gear that meets the Coast Guard’s new regulations.
If you miss that event, there’s always the International WorkBoat Show in New Orleans on Dec. 1 -3. Both shows have great shopping opportunities with chances to compare products for both features and price.