8

Conclusions and Recommendations

Commercial fishing, inherently a dangerous undertaking, has one of the highest mortality rates of any occupation. Furthermore, a substantial number of vessels are lost and many more are damaged or break down each year during fishing operations and transit to and from the fishing grounds. Overall, the industry's safety performance record is so poor that the availability and cost of insurance have become major sources of concern to many fishermen. Despite these facts—unlike most other maritime activities—the safety of fishing industry vessels has, until recently, gone largely unregulated. Voluntary measures relied on to improve safety have been spotty and inconsistent, though if universally applied, some appear to have significant potential to improve safety performance.

The fishing industry's safety record can be improved, but this will require mandated, systematic attention to safety throughout the industry. Greater federal involvement will be required to bring all safety measures used into a cohesive and effective program. Near-term implementation of basic safety measures is feasible by modestly expanding or building on existing resources and coordinating efforts by federal and state governments, fishery management councils, fisheries commissions, industry, and interested third parties in the administration process. Anticipated benefits for all elements of the safety program need to be balanced against the costs. In some cases, congressional authority will be required to enable implementation.

This study has identified safety problems and issues in five general areas:

  1. safety administration,

  2. vessel fitness,



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 142
FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program 8 Conclusions and Recommendations Commercial fishing, inherently a dangerous undertaking, has one of the highest mortality rates of any occupation. Furthermore, a substantial number of vessels are lost and many more are damaged or break down each year during fishing operations and transit to and from the fishing grounds. Overall, the industry's safety performance record is so poor that the availability and cost of insurance have become major sources of concern to many fishermen. Despite these facts—unlike most other maritime activities—the safety of fishing industry vessels has, until recently, gone largely unregulated. Voluntary measures relied on to improve safety have been spotty and inconsistent, though if universally applied, some appear to have significant potential to improve safety performance. The fishing industry's safety record can be improved, but this will require mandated, systematic attention to safety throughout the industry. Greater federal involvement will be required to bring all safety measures used into a cohesive and effective program. Near-term implementation of basic safety measures is feasible by modestly expanding or building on existing resources and coordinating efforts by federal and state governments, fishery management councils, fisheries commissions, industry, and interested third parties in the administration process. Anticipated benefits for all elements of the safety program need to be balanced against the costs. In some cases, congressional authority will be required to enable implementation. This study has identified safety problems and issues in five general areas: safety administration, vessel fitness,

OCR for page 142
FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program human factors, safety equipment and survival, and external influences. Conclusions and recommendations in each of these areas respond to the congressional intent under the Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Safety Act of 1988 (CFIVSA, P.L. 100-424) to reduce the incidence of casualties, fatalities, and injuries. Unfortunately, the degree to which the safety measures recommended in this chapter will reduce vessel and personnel casualties cannot be estimated precisely. While the apparent rate of incidence is high, the industry is small, and the aggregate number of vessel- or life-threatening events is low relative to that of other high-risk industries. One or two large-scale fishing industry vessel disasters can skew casualty rates in any given year. Moreover, it is difficult to know how many events would occur regardless of safety precautions—just as it is impossible to know how many events do not occur because safety preparations succeed. Dramatic reductions in casualties may not result immediately, and decreasing casualty trends may prove difficult to discern in the short term. However, meaningful and measurable improvements can nevertheless eventually be achieved. ESTABLISHING AN INTEGRATED SAFETY PROGRAM Safety problems have generally been approached individually rather than systematically, resulting in what at best is a partial solution. A holistic approach is needed to ensure that the full nature of each problem is considered, an appropriate range of alternatives for addressing the problem is developed, and balance is maintained with other elements of an overall safety-improvement strategy. A “total concept” integrated program would include: goals and objectives set to achieve improvements in safety nationwide, but refined to take into account regional variations in exposure to hazards, operating and working conditions, safety performance, and other relevant factors; a data base sufficient to identify problems, evaluate improvement alternatives, and monitor results; standards of performance, both of vessels and of personnel, established with the aim of meeting safety objectives while at the same time improving the quality and potential productivity of the nation's fishing fleets; means to achieve and maintain these standards, e.g., training programs and equipment research and development; means to monitor and enforce the standards and regulations, e.g., operator licensing and vessel inspection; and a deliberate methodology to evaluate program effectiveness and progressively introduce adjustments as needed.

OCR for page 142
FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program SAFETY LEADERSHIP Industry and individual leadership have certainly contributed to safety within the industry, but have not been able to sufficiently motivate universal attention to the subject. Voluntary private and government initiatives have been highly fragmented and have induced only small response. Strong, central leadership underwritten with sufficient resources to sustain long-term momentum is needed to provide an effective forum for addressing safety on an ongoing basis and to implement and administer a comprehensive, integrated safety program. RECOMMENDATION Establish Federal Leadership The Department of Transportation, acting through the Coast Guard, should lead a coordinated national effort to improve safety within the commercial fishing industry. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), international and national fisheries commissions, states, the fishing and insurance industries, marine educators, and other interested or affected parties should, within their areas of responsibility or service, cooperate fully with the Coast Guard in establishing the national, regional, and local leadership and resources necessary to improve safety in the fishing industry. IMPLEMENTING THE PROGRAM Significant levels of manpower and financial resources would be required to implement the more stringent safety alternatives, such as vessel inspection. The prospective effectiveness of these more costly alternatives cannot be assessed within the scope of existing data. Less-resource-intensive safety interventions, grounded in existing programs, could facilitate near-term implementation and have potential to increase safety awareness and improve vessel fitness for service. At the same time, they would lay a foundation for more-stringent safety measures in the longer term if it becomes clear that they are necessary to meet safety objectives. As a cautionary note, higher casualty rates may be disclosed as more complete data are developed. Therefore, the effects of data-improvement regimes must be considered when evaluating progress in meeting safety objectives and determining whether to impose more rigorous safety-improvement alternatives. RECOMMENDATION Implement an Integrated Safety Strategy by Stages The Coast Guard should implement a comprehensive safety program that addresses, in stages, the full range of safety problems. Initial

OCR for page 142
FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program program elements should impose the least onerous burden on the fishing industry—insofar as possible—maximizing use of relatively low cost, least intrusive measures that can be implemented quickly using existing resources. The effectiveness of the measures taken should be evaluated as data are developed. If unsatisfactory or ineffective for some or all categories and sizes of vessels, more-stringent measures should be considered and introduced in stages where needed until desired safety-performance objectives are achieved. SAFETY ADMINISTRATION Effective safety administration will require a comprehensive program that first identifies and encourages participation of all who have the potential to contribute to the program, evaluates this potential, and organizes a safety infrastructure such that all efforts are mutually supportive and integrated to achieve maximum results. Next, means must be found to acquire sufficient and usable data to identify specific safety problems, measure their impact, evaluate improvement alternatives, and monitor results. In this regard, the data are incomplete concerning vessel employment in commercial fishing, the population at risk, exposure levels (including changes resulting from advances in technology), the full scope of vessel and personnel casualties and accidents, and personal injuries. These and other factors limit the utility of comparative analysis with other occupations. The data are sufficient to conclude that opportunities exist to improve safety, but do not provide sufficient insight on cause-and-effect relationships to predict the effect of alternatives to achieve safety-improvement objectives. Therefore, implementation of safety alternatives needs to be coordinated with development of means to evaluate the results. RECOMMENDATION Upgrade Safety Administration The Coast Guard should upgrade the capability to administer an integrated safety program. The Coast Guard should: identify, catalog, and establish communication with pertinent agencies, associations, groups, and individuals, both in government and in industry, at federal, regional, state, and local levels, in order to determine their respective current capabilities and future potential to function as part of a nationwide safety infrastructure network to assist in the development and conduct of the program; evaluate its maritime law enforcement program, including boardings and other compliance activities, to determine whether, to what extent, and how most effectively this program might be employed

OCR for page 142
FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program in implementing a fishing industry vessel safety program to motivate as much as to demand compliance with safety regulations; and consider, as part of initial goal setting, each proposed safety improvement alternative in terms of required manpower, costs (including to whom), anticipated effectiveness, and implementation timing. RECOMMENDATION Upgrade Safety Data The Coast Guard should upgrade safety data to provide the information needed to administer an integrated safety system. The Coast Guard should: assess fishing industry vessel safety data requirements, including data on fishing fleets and fishermen; consolidate, correlate, or otherwise provide compatibility between existing Coast Guard data bases and information systems, including the agency's main casualty (CASMAIN), search and rescue (SAR), and Summary Enforcement Event Report (SEER) data bases and the Marine Safety Information System (MSIS); expand and integrate data acquisition and utilization capabilities of these data bases in order to gather, standardize, evaluate, and disseminate fishing vessel safety data. The Coast Guard's Marine Accident Report Form, CG-2692, should be modified to include information on the fishery and activity within the fishery in which a commercial fishing industry vessel was engaged; coordinate with OSHA, NOAA, state offices maintaining vital statistics and casualty data, and the commercial fishing and marine insurance industries, within their functional areas of responsibilities, to further develop and integrate data on commercial fishing industry vessel casualties, fatalities, and injuries; upgrade existing federal and state vessel-registration programs to develop a comprehensive national data base encompassing all commercial fishing industry vessels for regulatory tracking purposes and to improve future analytic capabilities. The data should provide a basic record of vessel usage, details of the vessel's physical characteristics, and the nature of its employment; coordinate with NOAA and state agencies maintaining fishery license or permit data to develop a comprehensive national data base encompassing all fishermen to provide a basic record of the population at risk and for the purpose of improving analytical capabilities. The Coast Guard should establish a mandatory professional registration requirement if necessary to derive this information; and publish an annual report on fishing industry vessel safety, including information on vessel loss, fatality, and injury rates by region

OCR for page 142
FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program and fishery. This annual report should include occupational safety data for the commercial fishing industry harvest sector comparable to those available for other industries. The report should provide the data necessary for evaluating the effectiveness of national fishing vessel safety efforts. These recommendations correspond to alternatives 1 to 3, 7, and 15, which were introduced in previous chapters and are summarized in Table 8-1 with all other alternatives. NEAR-TERM SAFETY IMPROVEMENT OPTIONS There is a broad range of alternatives that can potentially improve safety. Each alternative needs to be evaluated in the context of an integrated safety program. The less-costly ones and those capable of early implementation deserve priority consideration. The committee 's evaluation of implementation timing and applicability is also shown in Table 8-1. Some alternatives of moderate cost are already in partial use, providing a means for proceeding with safety improvements at a level industry could bear while the potential effects, benefits, and costs of more-stringent alternatives are evaluated. The near-term alternatives that should be employed as initial elements of an integrated safety improvement program follow. Fishing Industry Vessels Overall vessel fitness for service needs to be improved. The high incidence of breakdowns and casualties associated with material failure is indicative of widespread deficiencies throughout the national fishing fleet. Even many vessels with minor deficiencies that continue their pattern of minor breakdowns present, under certain conditions, the potential for major casualties affecting both lives and vessels. Reducing safety deficiencies for vessels not fully fit for service should reduce casualty rates. The existing data do not permit identification of specific vessels at risk. Therefore, improvement measures would initially have to be applied across the entire fleet to be effective and would include some form of compulsory inspection. The inspection could be as benign as a mandatory self-inspection backed by suitable compliance measures. If this failed to achieve desired objectives, a series of more-thorough and -costly technical alternatives would culminate in a formal vessel-inspection program. Some vessels are likely to be unfit to continue operations in any capacity and should be retired or constrained from further service. Removal from service would occur to some degree if load-line, classification, or full inspection requirements were imposed. The character of commercial fishing is changing with the advent of increasing numbers of larger vessels, expansion of U.S. fish processing activity

OCR for page 142
FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program TABLE 8-1 Safety Improvement Alternatives     IMPLEMENTATION Alt. Number Category/Alternative Title Near-term Mid-term Long-term Not carried forward to a recommendation   SAFETY ADMINISTRATION         1 Update and expand safety data ◆       2 Require vessel registration x       3 Require professional registration o         VESSEL-RELATED ALTERNATIVES         4 Establish minimum design, structural, stability, and material condition standards x       5 Expand equipment requirements ◆       6 Improve human engineering of vessels, deck layouts, and machinery     ◆   7 Continue compliance examinations ◆       8 Require self-inspection ◆       9 Require marine surveys   x     10 Require load lines     x   11 Require vessel classification     x   12 Require vessel inspection   x     13 Remove unsafe, inefficient, or excess vessels from service   x       PERSONNEL-RELATED ALTERNATIVES         14 Establish risk communication/safety awareness programs o       15 Publish and distribute safety publications o       16 Require emergency preparedness measures o       17 Develop and promulgate standard operating procedures o       18 Develop competency standards o       19 Promote education and training o       20 Require education and training with certification   o     21 Require licensing     o   22 Establish vessel manning and watchkeeping criteria     o     SURVIVAL ALTERNATIVES         23 Require manufacturers to provide installation, maintenance, and use instructions o       24 Develop and require carriage of fishing-industry-specific survival equipment o       25 Prohibit use of survival equipment that is not Coast Guard-approved       o   EXTERNAL INFLUENCES ALTERNATIVES         26 Establish flexible season openings o       27 Establish a voting position for a marine safety organization on each fishery management council   o     28 Expand safety emphasis of fishery management plans     ◆   29 Require insurance coverage       ◆ 30 Expand fishing-industry-specific weather services o       Primary applicability: x - vessels; o - personnel; ◆ - vessels and personnel; Boldface - specifically addressed in CFIVSA

OCR for page 142
FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program afloat, and technologically more-advanced fishing gear. Some processing vessels already have significant complements of industrial workers beyond those traditionally described as fishermen. The importance of introducing industrial safety measures common in other industries will grow as more of these vessels join the fishing fleet. RECOMMENDATION Establish Vessel and Equipment Standards The Coast Guard should establish minimum standards for vessel design, construction or conversion, arrangements, materials, and stability and should establish or expand carriage and maintenance requirements for navigation, communication, fire-fighting, and life-saving equipment. These requirements should be correlated with vessel physical characteristics and usage and operating areas. The standards should be consistent with existing voluntary guidelines that demonstrably improve safety, and should be made mandatory for all new construction and conversions. RECOMMENDATION Utilize Regulatory Enforcement Activities The Coast Guard should continue compliance examinations at an appropriate level to motivate adherence to safety regulations, modifying the scope and level of enforcement in consultation with the fishing industry as other alternatives are applied to safety problems. RECOMMENDATION Require Inspection The Coast Guard should establish and administer regulations requiring a compulsory self-inspection program to improve vessel fitness for intended service. The program should contain: a methodology through which owners and operators of fishing industry vessels, not subject to more-stringent inspection measures by other regulations, would conduct a self-inspection of their vessels in advance of a fishing season or extended voyage utilizing a prescribed checklist or other inspection guide to determine that the vessel is fit for service in accordance with standards and equipment regulations; an audit process, such as dockside or underway boardings, other form of compliance examinations, or reporting regime, through which self-inspection can be validated and confirmed; provisions for accepting more-thorough examinations, such as a marine survey by a qualified third party, vessel classification, or maintenance in class in lieu of self-inspection;

OCR for page 142
FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program provisions for imposing more-stringent inspections or sanctions on a vessel-by-vessel basis by the auditing agency or its representative on a finding of excessive or unresolved discrepancies or other determination that a vessel is not being fully or properly maintained; and provisions for advancing to more-stringent inspection alternatives for some or all vessels if self-inspection proves unsatisfactory or ineffective in improving safety. RECOMMENDATION Remove Unfit Vessels from Service The Coast Guard, in consultation with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), should research the merit of safety and economic programs for permanently removing vessels no longer fit for service from the U.S. fishing fleet. RECOMMENDATION Improve Safety in the Workplace The Coast Guard, in concert with OSHA, should research ways in which occupational safety in the marine environment could be improved for activities of an industrial nature aboard fishing industry vessels. These recommendations address alternative 4, alternative 5, alternative 6, alternative 7 through alternative 8 and alternative 13. If vessel self-inspection, alternative 8, fails to achieve its objectives within a reasonable period developed in consultation with the fishing industry, consideration should then be given to independent surveys, load-line requirements, classification, or formal inspection, alternative 9, alternative 10, alternative 11 through alternative 12. Human Factors There are no data that permit determination of the professional experience or qualifications of individual fishermen, including vessel operators and watchkeepers, or their awareness of or attention to safety. However, the prevalence of human factors as direct or indirect causes of vessel and personnel casualties and personal injuries in the data, and rich anecdotal information, indicate that safety problems related to the human dimension are widespread. The casualties that occur are frequently associated with insufficient awareness of safety issues and basic expertise, which can be mitigated or compensated for by: increasing awareness of safety as a fundamental responsibility of owners, operators, and crewmen, not only in their self-interest, but as an element of good business;

OCR for page 142
FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program providing reasonable means for all fishermen and vessel operators to acquire the basic skills needed to successfully perform their respective roles; and ensuring that the basic qualifications needed for service as vessel operators, watchkeepers, and crewmen are attained. Some form of training with validation of competency will be needed for all fishermen and vessel operators. Measures could be as benign as onboard instruction with log entry verifications and local-level training programs with certificates of completion. If these failed to achieve the desired objectives, more-thorough licensing regimes for fishermen and operators should culminate in formal license examinations. Measures to improve basic skills could be started by encouraging use of existing training resources, expanding this capability and accrediting curricula and training facilities, and then requiring participation in training programs. Program effectiveness would be enhanced by providing training opportunities at fishing ports and by correlating scheduling with fishing operations and seasons. Different training levels are needed for each role. Verification of training is needed and could be accomplished by issuing certificates from approved training facilities, for presentation on demand by the auditing organization. Improved accountability for safety is needed and could be accomplished by requiring vessel operator licenses issued upon completion of training and examination requirements. RECOMMENDATION Expand Safety Awareness The Coast Guard, in conjunction with the fishing industry, Maritime Administration (MARAD), NOAA, and OSHA, should organize and lead an intensive, broad-based risk communication effort to improve safety awareness among members of the fishing industry. The program should be aimed at informing, educating, and motivating fishermen on matters of safety and its impact on their lives and livelihoods. RECOMMENDATION Improve Emergency Preparedness The Coast Guard should immediately establish regulations requiring basic emergency preparations by all personnel aboard fishing industry vessels. The regulations should mandate onboard safety orientation, instructions, and emergency drills. The Coast Guard should, in consultation with NOAA and the fishing industry, develop userfriendly materials and methodologies to facilitate compliance.

OCR for page 142
FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program RECOMMENDATION Establish Basic Professional Qualification Standards The Coast Guard, in conjunction with the fishing industry, should identify the minimum basic qualification levels needed for all persons engaged in commercial fishing and the standard operating procedures that should be employed. The Coast Guard should publish and encourage use of standard operating procedures (including manning and watchkeeping guidance), insofar as practical, in the fishing fleet. RECOMMENDATION Enhance the Education and Training Infrastructure The Coast Guard, in conjunction with MARAD and NOAA, should enhance the existing education and training infrastructure, including development of accreditation standards and establishment of a sufficient national, regional, and local resource base, to ensure the means through which fishermen can obtain basic knowledge and practical skills as crewmen, watchkeepers, and operators. The Coast Guard, NOAA, and fishing industry leaders should encourage use of existing training opportunities to acquire basic knowledge and skills. RECOMMENDATION Require Professional Competency The Coast Guard should establish and administer regulations requiring that each fisherman, vessel operator, or individual in charge acquires the fundamental skills associated with his or her role aboard fishing industry vessels, as follows: The Coast Guard should establish a certification program to provide a means for each fisherman to establish his or her basic qualifications for employment in the industry by meeting criteria tailored for the industry, such as time in service, attendance at educational or training courses, or demonstrations of competence. The Coast Guard should establish a licensing requirement applicable to each operator or individual in charge of a fishing industry vessel. Implementation of the license requirement should emphasize development of the practical skills needed to operate different categories of fishing industry vessels while also providing the means for holding operators accountable for safety. The operator license should be issued upon presentation of a certificate of competency, acceptable to the Coast Guard, attesting to satisfactory completion of the required courses pertaining to vessel operation and safety, except where the existing license for master or mate of an uninspected fishing industry vessel is required or held. The Coast Guard should establish an audit process such as

OCR for page 142
FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program verification through boardings or a professional registration program, employing automated data bases for effective information management, to ensure that fisherman certification and operator licensing requirements are met. If performance objectives are not met through measures intended to facilitate skill development at the local level, the Coast Guard should establish provisions for advancing to more-stringent licensing measures for fishermen and vessel operators, such as requiring formal examinations and mandating manning and watchkeeping requirements. These recommendations correspond to alternative 3 and alternative 14, alternative 15, alternative 16, alternative 17, alternative 18, alternative 19, alternative 20, alternative 21 through alternative 22. Survival The effectiveness of available Coast Guard-approved survival equipment would be enhanced by providing improved instructional material specifically oriented toward its maintenance and use in the fishing environment. Coast Guard-approved, special-purpose deckwear with inherent or inflatable flotation and thermal protection suitable for use aboard small fishing vessels is not available. Equipment of this type is needed to provide fishermen a reasonable way to protect themselves against falls overboard and sudden, catastrophic loss of their vessels that precludes access to or use of other emergency equipment. RECOMMENDATION Improve Use and Maintenance Instructions for Survival Equipment The Coast Guard should require that each item of Coast Guard-approved, special-purpose survival equipment be accompanied by adequate instructional material, including audiovisual aids, demonstrating correct use and maintenance to assist fishermen in improving the readiness of survival equipment and their ability to effectively employ this equipment in survival settings. RECOMMENDATION Improve Special-Purpose Survival Equipment The Coast Guard should, in consultation with the commercial fishing industry, identify special-purpose equipment specifically designed for use aboard fishing vessels that is needed to increase the likelihood that fishermen will survive falls overboard or sudden loss of their vessel, develop standards for this equipment, and develop prototype equipment if necessary to bring this equipment to market.

OCR for page 142
FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program The Coast Guard should consider the merit of requiring the carriage of such equipment after a thorough field evaluation. These recommendations correspond to alternative 23 and alternative 24. Insufficient data are available to make a preliminary determination on the merit of alternative 25, to prohibit nonapproved survival equipment. Fisheries Management Fishery management practices are not direct causes of casualties in the fishing industry. Nevertheless, they have contributed to the sequence of events leading to some casualties. Safety could be improved for short-opening fisheries by providing flexibility to accommodate poor environmental conditions. Attention to safety could be improved by establishing a neutral, voting member to represent safety issues on the regional fishery management councils. Economic conditions favorable to investment in safety equipment and training could be fostered by measures to match the national harvesting capability with the available fishery resources. RECOMMENDATION Increase Attention to Safety as an Element of Fisheries Management The Secretary of Transportation and the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere should petition Congress to establish a Coast Guard flag officer as a voting member on each of the fishery management councils and to add safety considerations to national standards stated in the Magnuson Fisheries Conservation and Management Act for the express purpose of establishing safety as an equal consideration with other factors in fisheries management decision making. This recommendation corresponds to alternative 26, alternative 27 through alternative 28. Management of harvesting capacity, an element of alternative 13 and alternative 28, requires a comprehensive economic analysis which was beyond the scope of this study and is not carried forward to a specific safety recommendation. Insurance Insurance does not cause casualties in the fishing industry—it pays for them. Insurance rates are a direct reflection of the industry's unsatisfactory safety record. Nevertheless, making insurance compulsory, alternative 29, is not practical under the present structure and economic conditions of the fishing and insurance industries, and it is not clear that the alternative could be implemented in such as way as to have the desired effect of improving safety.

OCR for page 142
FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program Weather Services Weather advisory services are not implicated as direct causes of casualties in the fishing industry. However, weather conditions are clearly the proximate cause of some casualties and contribute to many more. The availability of timely, accurate, and complete weather information for the fishing grounds and fishing ports, particularly those that are remote or prone to rapidly changing conditions, potentially would improve the opportunity for timely decision making by vessel operators. RECOMMENDATION Improve Weather Services The National Weather Service should research fishing industry weather advisory needs to determine if additional coverage is needed for fishing grounds and ports and, if needed, take action necessary to provide such services. This recommendation corresponds to alternative 30. SUMMARY The recommendations propose a single, integrated program for safety improvement under Department of Transportation leadership that would begin immediately by expanding existing measures and drawing on the existing safety infrastructure and resources. In this way, government, industry, and individual resources would not be unduly strained, nor further delay experienced, in establishing systematic attention to safety. Treating safety as a total concept does not mean that all elements of the system have to be given the same priority or activated concurrently. It does mean, however, seeking an effective balance among all program elements to maximize the effective contribution of incremental costs and cumulative impacts of each. Since it is not known how effective individual alternatives might prove to be in application, it makes sense to begin with basic measures to address each major problem area—safety performance monitoring, vessel-related problems, personnel-related problems, survival issues, and external influences. Basic alternatives in each of these areas could be refined and given appropriate emphasis as experience is gained during application. The alternatives identified in this report, consolidated in Table 8-1, are categorized by problem area and the estimated general opportunity for implementation. It is envisioned that near-term items could form the foundation for a comprehensive program encompassing most or all of the alternatives shown. Data that are now fragmented, incomplete, or nonexistent could begin to be organized and improved through the proposed registration and improved

OCR for page 142
FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program casualty-reporting systems. This would lead to a data resource of meaningful potential for administration of a fully integrated safety program. Owners and operators should be provided the opportunity through improved safety performance to avoid the more extreme, costly alternatives, such as a full vessel inspection requirement. If, however, the less rigorous measures do not achieve the desired objectives in a reasonable period, the safety program should be stepped up over the long term until the desired level of performance is achieved. Setting goals and objectives and measuring progress will be a challenge. At each stage, the following questions must be asked: How much safety is enough? What costs is the industry able to bear? And how many resources is government willing to devote to fishing vessel safety? Ultimately, the level of federal and industry resources that can be committed to improving safety will be a principal determinant of the configuration of the resulting programs.