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FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program 4 The Fishing Vessels This study and the Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Safety Act of 1988 (CFIVSA) arose from concern for people exposed to dangers on board fishing vessels. Danger is present during all phases of fishing operations—pretrip loading, transit to and from the fishing grounds, fishing, and unloading. Fishing vessels flood, founder, capsize, burn, go aground, collide, and break down. Ultimately, vessel loss or damage results, often accompanied by deaths or injuries. If forced to abandon ship, all on board may end up in the water or in a life raft. For those trapped on a sinking or capsized vessel, it can become a tomb. The vessel as a working platform is the site of a variety of occupational accidents; fishermen fall, are knocked off, or become entangled in fishing gear and are pulled into the water. Fishermen increase their exposure to risk by the way they interact with the vessel, machinery, or fishing gear: for example, improperly operated winches, walking under suspended gear like crab pots, working on deck without protective clothing, or standing under a brailer full of fish. Although fishermen 's actions and behavior are instrumental in the chain of events that cause accidents, not all accidents can be prevented solely by modifying their behavior. In some cases, accidents may be better prevented through vessel design modifications (National Research Council [NRC], 1985) and engineering and technical solutions. Therefore, understanding the vessel as a complex system of transport, domicile, workplace, and product storehouse and knowing what can happen to or on it are essential to modifying it to improve safety. This chapter focuses on uninspected fishing vessels (see box, p. 83), i.e.,
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FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program Capsized fishing vessel Melissa Chris, Peril Strait, near Sitka, Alaska, August 18, 1988. (PAC Ed Moreth, U.S. Coast Guard) that 99 percent of the U.S. fishing industry fleet subject to only very limited federal, industry, or self-imposed requirements governing design, construction, maintenance, or installed equipment. The nature and causes of vessel-related safety problems are discussed, along with safety-improvement alternatives. The analysis includes uninspected fishing industry vessels with combined catching and processing capabilities, but it also applies to fish tender vessels and non-industrial components of processing vessels. Vessels that transport only fish as general cargo were beyond the study's scope. THE VESSEL AS AN INTEGRATED SYSTEM A fishing vessel is a complex system in terms of function as well as engineering and technology. It is outfitted with propulsion and steering machinery; fishing gear; and deck, navigation, and communications equipment. Outfitting can range from austere—as in the case of small traditional boats like inshore lobster boats that still rely heavily on manual labor—to elaborate vessels with highly engineered, computer-controlled gear-handling systems and space-age
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FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program electronic-navigation equipment like that found on large groundfish trawlers in Alaskan waters. Cargo space can range from simple fish boxes or bins to circulating seawater systems to flash freezers. All but the smaller vessels usually have cabins, pilot- or deckhouses, or similar shelter. Larger vessels have living quarters, galleys, and marine sanitation systems. These components form the complete engineering and technical system needed to catch, preserve, and transport fish. Vessel Characteristics as a Safety Issue Every vessel has a distinct “personality.” No fishing vessel is identical to another, either physically or in handling characteristics. Even similarly designed vessels may be constructed from different materials; equipped with different propulsion or steering systems; modified while in service; or configured with different fishing gear, deck machinery, or electronics. Vessel loading conditions change dramatically as fuel and supplies are consumed, fish are harvested and stored, and gear is retrieved and stowed. This significantly affects a vessel's motion and handling, particularly stability (Adee, 1987). The harsh environment vessels operate in accelerates corrosion and wear. How these factors affect safety depends on how well the skipper and crew know their vessel—what it can and cannot do and how it reacts to varied loading and environmental conditions. NATURE AND CAUSES OF FISHING VESSEL SAFETY PROBLEMS Many fishing vessels are well designed, constructed, and maintained. There are some, however, whose seaworthiness is questionable. Unfortunately, there are no data to determine how many fishing vessels can be considered unseaworthy, either by design or by material condition. To obtain even a rough estimate would require a vessel-by-vessel physical review of design and construction documents (insofar as they were used and are still available) and inspection of material condition for a representative sample of the fishing fleet. Such an effort was beyond the scope of this study. Nevertheless, Coast Guard main casualty (CASMAIN) and search and rescue (SAR) data indicate that maintenance deficiencies involving hulls and fittings, propulsion equipment, and other systems affect all types of uninspected fishing vessels. Major stability problems are implicated by accident investigations (National Transportation Safety Board [NTSB], 1987) and anecdotal information. They can result from inadequacies in design, construction, or conversion; loading; or insufficient understanding of stability (see Dahle and Weerasekera, 1989; Hatfield, 1989; Plaza, 1989; Adee, 1987; U.S. Coast Guard [USCG], 1986b). In many cases, stability has not been considered in design. The apparent high incidence of workplace accidents suggests inadequately designed safety features in machinery, deck layouts, and fishing gear. Furthermore, many vessel parts
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FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program are not designed; they are simply fabricated on the spot (American Society for Testing and Materials [ASTM], 1988; Miller and Miller, 1990). Vessel Casualties Fishing vessel accidents occur when the physical system—the vessel—fails, fishermen misuse or exceed its capabilities, or it is overwhelmed by external forces like rogue waves (see Grissim, 1990). Some factors can be altered to improve safety. This section draws on the results of National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigations, the regional assessments, anecdotal information, and the committee's collective experience to assess inadequacies in or failures of engineering and technical systems leading to casualties. The nature and causes of casualties for documented vessels as recorded in CASMAIN are representative of those for comparable state-numbered vessels. Technical reasons for markedly lower vessel losses for state-numbered vessels are also discussed. Flooding and Foundering (Sinking) The principal vessel-related cause of flooding and foundering recorded in CASMAIN is failed material resulting in a breach of the vessel 's hull, which frequently leads to stability problems. Flooding leading to foundering can be sudden, but the rate of water ingress sometimes provides time for the crew to control or correct the problem or evacuate. Flooding does not necessarily lead to sinking, however, notably in small fishing vessels with installed flotation. Representative flooding scenarios that can lead to foundering include the following: boarding green seas in heavy weather, thereby damaging or overwhelming closures or hatches on the weather deck (Dahle and Weerasekera, 1989; NTSB, 1987; National Fisherman Yearbook, 1982), or—in the case of open construction—swamping a vessel even in less severe conditions; in fair weather, shipping water through open, unattended machinery space doors, deck hatchways, or hull openings when the vessel is heeled over as the result of lifting an unexpectedly full net, snagging a trawl on the bottom, shifting cargo, the free surface effect of liquid in tanks or water on deck, or improper loading (Nalder, 1990; Dahle and Weerasekera, 1989; NTSB, 1987; National Fisherman Yearbook, 1982); neglecting minor hull leaks that open up in heavy weather and let water in beyond the capacity of the bilge pump (NTSB, 1987; Lesh, 1982); failing to detect hull leaks in unattended compartments with no alarm systems or one that is disabled or fails (NTSB, 1987; Taylor, 1985; Lesh, 1982);
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FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program failing to detect improper, clogged, worn, or broken seawater piping systems, valves, flexible hoses, and pumps (Taylor, 1985; Nalder, 1990; Lesh, 1982); and breaching the hull as a result of collision or grounding. Competent design and construction followed by periodic maintenance, presail and underway tests of equipment and alarm systems, and routine underway checks of unattended spaces and machinery are well-established, effective ways to prevent such scenarios. Although few fishing vessels can survive engine room or lazarette flooding when loaded with fish, engineering measures can prevent sinking. They include the vessel's capability to pump out these two critical compartments, combined with working water-level alarms to alert operators to impending danger. Because deck loading or sea conditions can prevent access to the lazarette, pumping systems for this compartment could be configured to permit dewatering from another position on the vessel. Gravity drainage has not been effective in alleviating lazarette flooding. Capsizings Capsizings occur when vessels are made to operate in environmental conditions (e.g., wind, sea, and ice) or in ways (e.g., improper loading) that exceed their righting capability. Often, sudden overwhelming events with high fatality potential occur because of insufficient warning time to abandon ship. Persons on board can be trapped inside the hull, entangled in the rigging, or thrown into the water without personal survival equipment (see Chapter 6). Such situations are serious and life threatening. Capsizings have been caused by a loss of stability resulting from undetected flooding; synchronous rolling; and disregard for, or ignorance of, intact stability (Adee, 1985, 1987; NTSB, 1987; Dahle and Weerasekera, 1989). Other common causes are overloading on deck and improper use of tanks, sometimes aggravated by icing (see Adee, 1987; Ball, 1978; Walker and Lodge, 1987). Vessels such as crabbers, which combine low freeboard and high deck loads, are particularly susceptible to accidents caused by inadequate intact stability. In other fisheries, vessels that experience high deck loads, such as scallopers and clammers, are also susceptible (McGuffey and Sainsbury, 1985; Sainsbury, 1985; Taylor, 1985). At this time, there is no consistently reliable, simplified test to substitute for an inclining experiment to determine static stability, or a vessel's ability to right itself (see Eberhardt, 1989). Many of these casualties result from inadequate or outdated stability information for a large portion of the fleet. The effect of free surface liquids in tanks and fish holds can reduce intact stability. Such situations have led to a number of capsizings. Free liquid surfaces on board can also occur when water is trapped on deck. This is serious if
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FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program A good day's fishing and unusual cargo placement. Deck loading and cargo placement can affect a vessel's stability, reducing margins of safety during operation. the weight and volume of water trapped high on the vessel causes it to heel over, flood, and capsize. Blocked or insufficiently sized freeing ports in bulwarks and other structural features can also trap water, making vessels particularly susceptible to free-surface-effect problems. Stability is also affected when a vessel is modified or converted without considering lightship weight and center of gravity (NTSB, 1987; Adee, 1987). Installing refrigerated water or circulating seawater systems in a fish hold can significantly change an older vessel' s intact stability, necessitating restrictions on loading and hold usage to compensate for free surface effects and added weight in seawater tanks. Vessel size contributes to capsizing as well. A small vessel, despite good seamanship and material condition, can be more readily overwhelmed by heavy sea conditions (Canadian Coast Guard [CCG], 1987), as can almost any fishing vessel crossing a hazardous bar. Similarly, designing a vessel to comply with fishery management regulations for a primary fishery may compromise design for any secondary fisheries undertaken to make the operation profitable. Some fishery management regulations have been written with a principal dimension, particularly length, that is used as a cutoff point to limit carrying capacity. To comply with the rule, yet increase carrying capacity, a vessel's dimensions and proportions may be compromised.
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FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program Some of the circumstances reviewed above may be beyond any fisherman 's ability to control. In other situations, however, a vessel operator may unwittingly push a vessel beyond its inherent capabilities. Thus, knowing a vessel's capabilities—including stability—is critical to safe operation. Although stability criteria for fishing vessels less than 79 feet long are not clearly defined, many good design features can be incorporated. For example, to minimize free surface effects, tanks can be sized and arranged to minimize the number that have free surfaces at any given time. At all times, prudent seamanship and proper loading conditions are necessary. Despite the relatively low number of capsizings relative to other events, many vessels are frequently operated while exhibiting marginal stability as a result of loading. Such situations are potentially disastrous if conditions exceed the vessel or operator's capabilities. Fires and Explosions At sea, fire is even more dreaded than it is ashore. Fishermen faced with fire at sea can neither call for professional help nor run away from the danger. Short of abandoning ship in favor of a tiny liferaft, they must stay onboard and fight the fire themselves whether or not they have any training (Sabella, 1986). An estimated 70 percent of fires and explosions are associated with vessel-related causes; approximately two-thirds of those leading to vessel losses occur in machinery spaces, and for fish processors, in dry cargo and refrigeration spaces. Other fires occur in the galley and living spaces. The causes are many and varied: improperly stowed combustible materials and highly flammable liquids (Sabella, 1986; Hollin and Middleton, 1989; USCG, 1983, 1986b; Taylor, 1985); buildup of hydrogen gas from batteries in confined, poorly ventilated spaces (Sabella, 1986; Hollin and Middleton, 1989); broken fuel, lube, or hydraulic oil lines spraying atomized oil onto hot surfaces (USCG, 1986b; Sabella, 1986; Hollin and Middleton, 1989; Taylor, 1985); faulty electrical systems, especially if standard home or industrial electrical equipment is used instead of those certified for marine use (USCG, 1986b; Sabella, 1986; Hollin and Middleton, 1989), and exposed lighting fixtures in contact with combustible material; attempts to repair fuel and lube oil systems at sea; open-flame heaters and radiators and improperly installed propane fuel systems (Sabella, 1986; Hollin and Middleton, 1989); unprotected polyurethane foam (used extensively for insulation, it ignites and becomes extremely toxic when exposed to open flame or high heat,
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FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program produces toxic gas, and is difficult to extinguish) (Sabella, 1986; Hollin and Middleton, 1989; USCG, 1983; Readings from . . . Alaska Seas and Coasts, 1979b); and flexible hoses and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) piping, which melt or burn, connected to through-hull fittings and left open or connected without an intervening valve, leading to uncontrolled flooding. In many cases, fires are not detected in time to act effectively because there are no fire-detection systems or they fail to perform correctly. Fire prevention, fighting, and safety at sea are well understood and written about (Sabella, 1986; Hollin and Middleton, 1989; Roberts, 1989; U.S. Maritime Administration [MARAD], 1979; Zamiar, 1982; Readings from . . . Alaska Seas and Coasts, 1979b). There is nothing unique to the engineering, technical, or operational aspects of commercial fishing that precludes adapting design, construction, operating, safety, and fire-fighting measures and techniques used for other types of commercial vessels (see USCG, 1986b; MARAD, 1979; Taylor, 1985). Methods and equipment are available to prevent, detect, or extinguish all but the most catastrophic fires and explosions. These include smoke detectors and portable or installed fire-fighting gear. However, except for required portable fire extinguishers, this equipment is not widely used. Groundings Groundings result principally from navigational errors, but also from propulsion or steering system failure; insufficient power to move off or away from a leeshore, shoal, or inlet during heavy weather; or inadequate anchors or anchor lines without enough scope for prevailing conditions (see CCG, 1987). Groundings frequently lead to flooding, and ultimately sinking or breakup. Although largely attributed to human causes, there are engineering and technical factors that can reduce the risk of going aground: sufficient horsepower to permit maneuvering in restricted waters under adverse environmental conditions; suitable ground tackle to permit anchoring the vessel in any piloting waters during breakdowns; routine preventive maintenance to ensure that each system is operating at optimum level; and watertight bulkheads to prevent progressive flooding. Collisions (Including Allisions) Although collisions primarily result from human factors, engineering measures can mitigate the hazard. Propulsion and steering systems and navigational
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FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program The fishing vessel Alaskan Monarch lost steering while beset in ice off the Pribilof Islands, March 15, 1990. The vessel was hammered by walls of ice and water in shallows near shore and driven aground. After the Coast Guard cutter Storis was unable to get close enough to pass a towline, all fishermen aboard were rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter from Air Station Kodiak. (Norman Holm) equipment must be adequate for the vessel's service. Prudent design that includes such features as a collision bulkhead forward and transverse watertight bulkheads can contain flooding that could lead to capsizing or foundering. As with engineering design options for groundings, structural measures like these have not been widely adopted in fishing vessels. Material Failures Main engine failure is the leading factor implicated in vessel loss and damage from casualties coded as material failures in CASMAIN data, followed by propulsion and steering components. Why failure occurs is poorly indicated in the data. The operating environment contributes to maintenance difficulties, as does the timeliness and adequacy of maintenance. There are significant regional variations in reported cases of material failures; 43 percent of all casualties to documented fishing industry vessels in the North Atlantic and 51 percent along the West Coast were recorded as material failures. About 20 percent was normal in other regions. The implication is that many vessels that are not fully fit for service are operating nationwide.
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FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program The prevalence of material failures in casualties in the North Atlantic and West Coast could be related to: a high number of older vessels, which are more difficult to maintain; on the West Coast, permits assigned to vessels rather than individuals, which favors retention of old boats rather than new construction; and part-time use of vessels for fishing, use of antiquated fishing gear or redundant capacity that results in low earnings, and depressed economic conditions (see Pontecorvo, 1986; Taylor, 1985). Each of these factors might influence how much attention is paid to vessel maintenance. While neither CASMAIN nor SAR data can be directly correlated or full cause-and-effect relationships established, the implication of each data set is that many vessels have inadequacies in material condition that could lead to material failure and major casualties. Many of the safety problems that result could be mitigated by applying basic engineering practices for design and maintenance. Workplace-Related Casualties Occupational safety and health issues are part of everyday life aboard fishing vessels. Some of them have been addressed in manuals and periodicals, but in practice few fishermen have been exposed to formal occupational safety practices. The record of fatalities unrelated to vessel casualties and the apparent high incidence of personal injuries unrelated to vessel casualties indicates that the vessel as a workplace remains a major problem area. This is due to a combination of work practices and vessel or equipment design (ASTM, 1988; Goudey, 1986a,b; Hopper and Dean, 1989; see Amagai et al., 1989; Carbajosa, 1989; USCG, 1986b). Examples of possible causes that could lead to personal injuries and loss of life are shown in the box (Alaska Fisheries Safety Advisory Council, 1977; Readings from . . . Alaska Seas and Coasts, 1979a). The distinction between the vessel as an operating unit and a workplace is often obscure. Functions and activities associated with the work of catching fish, not operating the vessel itself, could be considered occupational rather than vessel related (i.e., operational)—for example, a finger amputated in a winch or unguarded machinery. Sometimes the distinction is blurred. A fall on a slippery deck could be either occupational (i.e, due to the absence of nonskid surfaces on decks or failure to wear nonskid boots), operational (from maneuvers resulting in unanticipated vessel motion), or a combination of both. Unfortunately, the data are not available to determine the full extent of workplace injuries (Canada, Goverment of, 1988; CCG, 1987; Gray, 1987a,b,c, 1986). Human factors engineering (HFE) resource materials are available, but have not been evaluated for use in the commercial fishing industry. No data were developed to indicate they have been applied. Some occupational safety
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FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program EXAMPLES OF CAUSES OF PERSONAL INJURY AND LOSS OF LIFE Stressed rigging Loose lines or gear on deck Loose or swinging rigging Improper use of machinery Overloaded skiffs or dinghies Poorly located controls and brakes on equipment Leaving machinery controls unattended while machinery is operating Working on equipment while it is running Slick decks Inadequate handholds Inadequate lighting Inadequate ventilation engineering has been accomplished—for example, machinery guarding suitable for the marine environment (Figure 4-1). It is limited, however, and tends to apply to individual vessels and corporate fleets. Some vessel safety manuals are available to guide safe workplace procedures (see Hollin and Middleton, 1989; CCG, 1987; Sabella, 1986). Personal protection equipment, such as high-traction boots and wire mesh gloves, are available (Freeman, 1990; Safety at Sea, 1989). Data are not available concerning the degree to which such items are used in the workplace. The nature of personal injuries—especially to extremities—suggests a need for systematic, industrywide use of safety equipment and in-depth consideration of workplace safety. Technology as a Safety Issue Technology advances, especially over the last three decades, have accelerated changes to design, construction or manufacture, and use of vessels, equipment, gear, and fish-preservation systems (see Fitzpatrick, 1989). These advances have been incorporated into existing and new fishing vessels when fishermen perceived the benefit to their operations (Browning, 1980; Dewees and Hawkes, 1988; Levine and McCay, 1987). For example, more-precise position fixing has permitted lobstering by small vessels farther offshore, and use of larger and heavier fishing gear. Adopting new technology like electronic navigation devices and computer-controlled net-handling systems has also enhanced many fishermen's operating skills.
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FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program boardings could be reduced if the Coast Guard accepts third-party certifications as suggested in the NPRM. However, the cost of technical review and quality assurance services, such as those associated with Coast Guard inspections to ensure compliance with federal requirements, would be borne by the owner. Although there are few mandatory design, construction, or outfitting standards in the United States, there are comprehensive, voluntary (and in some countries, mandatory), international, national, and classification society standards (ABS, 1989; USCG, 1989a, 1986b; ASTM, 1988; International Maritime Organization [IMO], 1980, 1977, 1975b, 1966). In general, they cover hull structure and arrangements, stability, machinery and marine engineering systems, welding and materials, and detailed periodic survey requirements. Some include operational safety guidelines as well. The standards may be detailed or refer only to requirements (usually referred to as “rules”) of ship classification societies. For example, stability for fishing vessels under 79 feet is not clearly defined, but standards do exist. A few larger fishing vessels are designed and classed when there is incentive to do so, such as registration, financing, or insurance requirements. Classification society options may include plan approval and survey during construction, independent stability certification (including lightship weight determination), and full classification. Only a nominal number of fishing vessels are classed, although some have gone through intermediate steps. Some larger fishing vessels are designed to class standards, even though they may not be officially classed. This is largely because of: the cost of classing a vessel (as much as $20,000 for a 50-foot boat and $30,000 for a 125-foot vessel); continuing costs to maintain a vessel in class; limited requirements by lending institutions and underwriters for classing; and few, if any, requirements for a foreign voyage that might necessitate evidence of fitness. Maintenance Issues Except for basic safety equipment like fire extinguishers, there are no regulations governing vessel or equipment maintenance and no universal industry standards or certification programs to promote it, although up-to-date self-help manuals and guides are widely available (Hollin and Middleton, 1989; Sabella, 1986). Self-regulation varies in thoroughness and effect and depends on the knowledge and skills of the captain and crew. Voluntary self-regulation takes a long time to catch on, but owner liability cases have fostered its use. Some industry organizations and self-insurance groups have promoted systematic attention to vessel safety by publishing relevant standards or guidelines (W. A. Adler, Massachusetts Lobstermen's Association, Inc., personal communication,
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FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program 1989; J. Costakes, Seafood Producers' Association, personal communication, 1989; Jones, 1987; Nixon et al., 1987). The net effect is that while some owners and operators hold themselves accountable for safety, no one is held strictly accountable for vessel fitness prior to operations. Some technical support is available to fishermen. A marine survey is a physical examination of the vessel, equipment, and associated records by an independent third party. Considerable technical expertise is required to perform a competent examination (see Knox, 1990). Annual marine surveys are conducted on approximately 20 percent of documented and 10 percent of state-numbered fishing vessels (Federal Register, 1990), generally to satisfy insurance underwriters. As a rule, the larger the vessel and the farther it fishes offshore, the more likely it is to have insurance coverage and thus be surveyed (many smaller, undercapitalized boats and those in depressed fisheries operate without insurance, however). As with yachts, surveys can also be performed to assist prospective buyers in selecting a vessel, determine causes and costs of accidents, and assess whether a vessel will perform as expected (see Knox, 1990). A marine survey, absent observed deficiencies or corrected discrepancies, does not ensure that a vessel is fit for service. Surveys vary in thoroughness, depending on underwriting requirements and the surveyor's experience (Expert, 1990). In the near term, surveyors with technical experience relevant to fishing vessels are far fewer than are needed to replace Coast Guard compliance measures (Federal Register, 1990; Expert, 1990). Another option is periodic boatyard maintenance, conducted where technical support may be available. This support also varies in quality and affordability. Finding an Experienced Designer or Surveyor Adequacy of design, construction, maintenance, and outfitting standards ultimately depends on the competence and integrity of the individuals providing technical services. So, choosing an experienced, reputable naval architect, builder, or marine surveyor is important. There is no institutional mechanism to help owners find such technical support, however. Professional trade associations and societies for naval architects, marine engineers, and marine surveyors have actively promoted fishing vessel safety and publish relevant information to their memberships. The four marine surveyor organizations in the United States set minimum professional standards for members (Expert, 1990). Thus, knowledgeable, experienced professionals, some of whom specialize in fishing industry vessels, can be found. Yet, it remains possible for novices to design, build, and survey uninspected fishing vessels and other marine vessels. More detailed examination of this issue was beyond the scope of this study. However, mandatory vessel and equipment standards could help weed out individuals unable to deliver corresponding levels of support. National
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FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program professional organizations could assist in building a pool of qualified technical personnel by providing training to support the fishing industry and establishing or expanding accreditation programs. STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE VESSEL SAFETY Safety can be improved by addressing problems associated with technology of the vessel and its equipment and human interactions with it. As discussed earlier in this chapter and in greater depth in Chapter 5, the human dimension in fishing safety is very important. Human behavior can be taken into account in the way vessels are designed, constructed, outfitted, and maintained. This is done either by designing potential human failings out of the system or by using technical systems as a medium for motivating or forcing behavioral changes. This section identifies specific safety-improvement approaches to vessel-related causes of fishing vessel casualties. Improving Vessel Fitness for Service Except for some basic federal regulatory requirements, there are no design, construction, outfitting, or maintenance standards for uninspected fishing industry vessels. This is expected to change as proposed federal regulations expand outfitting requirements for both state-numbered and documented fishing vessels. Additionally, major structural and equipment requirements could apply to certain documented fishing vessels (Federal Register, 1990). If adopted, the regulations would address many structural and equipment issues identified in this report. However, as the proposed regulations are written, vessel-design, construction, and material-condition issues would remain for the majority of the uninspected fishing fleet. Major vessel-related problems uncovered during this study include: nonavailability or lack of adherence to structural guidelines, classification society rules, and similar standards during vessel design and construction or conversion that lead to structural or stability problems; general nonavailability of stability data for each vessel; inadequate material condition of vessels and equipment, especially machinery, alarm systems, and survival equipment (see Chapter 6); nonavailable or inadequate operating equipment, including bilge alarms and smoke detectors, bilge pumps, and fire-fighting systems; use of machinery and fishing gear with inadequate occupational safety features; inadequate personal occupational safety equipment; and inadequate or insufficient survival equipment (see Chapter 6).
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FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program Vessel-related problems could be corrected by establishing minimum structural and equipment design and maintenance standards; incorporating occupational safety features into vessel, deck layout, and equipment design; installing or providing selected equipment including occupational safety and survival equipment; determining and providing data on a vessel's operating and stability characteristics; and implementing programs to motivate or compel improvement to minimum standards in each of these areas. Some techniques could influence human behavior, such as forcing fishermen's attention and resources to maintaining the material condition of their vessels and equipment. The following improvement alternatives continue the sequential numbering begun in Chapter 3. Alternative 4: Establish Minimum Design, Structural, Stability, and Material Condition Standards Virtually any hull form can be designed, built, and placed into service as a commercial fishing vessel without review of plans, construction techniques, or materials used and without determining its stability. Techniques used in other segments of the maritime industry to ensure a vessel's suitability for its intended service could be applied to fishing vessels, for example, standards for material condition and voluntary or mandatory certification or inspection programs. This alternative envisions that standards be developed, codified, and made mandatory for new construction and conversions and that levels of acceptable material condition be retroactively established for existing vessels and equipment. These standards could be adapted from guidelines published by IMO or existing voluntary guidelines (e.g., Coast Guard Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular 5-86 [USCG, 1986b], American Bureau of Shipping Guide for Building and Classing Fishing Vessels [ABS, 1989], and Standard Practice for Human Engineering Design for Marine Systems, Equipment, and Facilities [ASTM, 1988]). To some degree, standards are addressed in proposed rulemaking required by the CFIVSA. Developing standards is an element of most of the alternatives addressing vessel-related problems, because the standards form a baseline for measuring conformance or compliance. A thorough benefit-cost analysis would be needed to determine the economic feasibility of imposing standards where few or none existed before. Alternative 5: Expand Equipment Requirements Most fishing vessels are not required to be outfitted with equipment, such as automatic alarms, that would mitigate risk or increase timely detection of unsafe conditions. The problems could be dealt with by expanding federal requirements to carry or install equipment to include additional safety features. This alternative builds on existing regulations requiring installation or carriage
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FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program of certain equipment aboard uninspected fishing vessels. It is already being implemented under a federal rulemaking mandated by the CFIVSA. Basic issues are: What equipment will be required? In what quantity? On which vessels? Alternative 6: Improve Human Factors Engineering of Vessels, Deck Layouts, and Machinery Some work has been done in the fishing industry generally on a vessel-by-vessel basis to improve operational and workplace safety through the design of pilothouses and deck layouts, including lighting, machinery, and fishing gear (Goudey, 1986b; Hopper and Dean, 1989). For example, several of the newest longline vessels fishing in the North Pacific were designed to minimize personnel exposure to fishing gear and wind and sea conditions on deck (Buls, 1990; Griffen, 1990). In another example, a corporate fleet modified machinery guards for more-effective at-sea utilization (Lucas, 1985). Innovations like the preceding longline example are best inserted during design and construction (or even conversion) rather than retrofitting (see USCG, 1989a; Miller and Miller, 1990). Unfortunately, the range of innovations has not been cataloged, and the degree to which human factors engineering, including application of ASTM standards, might improve safety in the fishing industry has yet to be determined. Improving Vessel Safety Performance and Owner and Operator Accountability Maintaining fishing vessels and equipment is a major problem within the industry. A safe vessel requires dedicated involvement by the owner, operator, and crew. Some fishermen may not know the mechanics of maintenance, so increasing their knowledge and skills could, for example, lessen engine breakdowns or gear failure under stress. However, training may not be enough. Current motivating methods (voluntary measures promoted by the Coast Guard and industry organizations) have not resulted in a well-maintained fleet. Widespread vessel condition problems indicated by CASMAIN and SAR data suggest that more-rigorous motivation measures are needed. Alternative 7: Continue Compliance Examinations This alternative, a standard Coast Guard practice, usually occurs while a vessel is fishing or in transit. Coast Guard compliance examinations constitute the principal method for exposing uninspected vessels to federal checks for
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FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program mandated equipment and adherence to federal laws and regulations, including those pertaining to fisheries management conservation, marine pollution, and drugs. These examinations are conducted as underway operational boardings (USCG, 1986a). In 1989, about 6 percent of the uninspected fishing fleet was boarded (USCG, unpublished data, 1990). Whether these boardings were effective in improving safety aboard has not been evaluated by the Coast Guard. Locally intense, fishery-specific boarding programs, notably in southeastern Alaska, have demonstrated their ability to lower safety violations, but this has not been correlated with SAR and casualty data. Principal issues are whether compliance examinations could be used to motivate universal adherence to upgraded safety regulations, and to what degree. The committee's assessment of Coast Guard compliance examinations is in Appendix F. Alternative 8: Require Self-Inspection In the absence of effective voluntary self-inspection within the fishing industry, some level of compliance activity is needed to motivate improvement in safety. This alternative envisions mandatory self-inspection with audits and on-site spot checks by government or independent, accredited, third-party inspectors. Innovative checklists could be designed to lead the operator or crewman through self-inspection of the vessel and equipment prior to the fishing season or an extended voyage. The checklist would be validated by the captain or other responsible individual and retained on the vessel, with a copy provided to an auditor. Major problems would have to be corrected according to established criteria or the vessel could not be operated pending repair and reinspection, with enforcement through the audit process. This alternative could provide the fishing industry with methods to improve the condition of vessels and equipment and concurrently build safety awareness at moderate cost and minimal inconvenience. For owners and operators who already maintain their vessels, the impact would be minimal. Issues affecting implementation include provision of authority; falsifying checklists; the “checklist mentality, ” that is, focusing on the checklist to the exclusion of other safety aspects; and auditing criteria, responsibilities, and infrastructure. Alternative 9: Require Marine Surveys A more thorough check of vessels and equipment could be done by requiring marine surveys, which are already common for insurance. A federal requirement could call for marine surveys to verify conformance with applicable standards (alternative 4) at specified intervals and corrective action for deficiencies. Because each vessel is distinct, marine surveys could also be required when a vessel is sold or a new master or operator takes over to ensure that the captain is familiar with the vessel's material condition before operating it.
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FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program A variation of this alternative could require a marine survey for vessels that suffer major casualties or are the subject of a SAR incident implicating vessel condition as a major contributing factor. This alternative could limit government involvement and the need for additional federal resources. However, more qualified marine surveyors would be required. Implementation costs would be borne principally by the industry and vessels. Alternative 10: Require Load Lines An undetermined number of fish tender and processing vessels 79 feet or longer are subject to load-line regulations. However, fishing vessels are specifically excluded by law from load-line requirements (46 U.S.C.A. §2101; USCG, 1990b). These regulations establish the minimum safe freeboard to which a vessel may be safely loaded to its limiting draft (46 U.S.C.A. §5104). Vessels subject to the regulations cannot be operated unless load lines have been assigned (46 U.S.C.A. §5103). Load-line surveys consider the hull and fittings of the vessel, hull strength, stability for all loading conditions, overboard drainage of deck water in heavy weather, and exterior protection for crew members (46 U.S.C.A. §5105). These regulations are directed toward merchant vessels whose hatches are secured and made watertight for the duration of the voyage. Vessels subject to the regulations cannot be operated unless load lines have been assigned. This alternative would expand load-line requirements to fish tenders and processors currently grandfathered under existing law and to fishing vessels, where practical, to take advantage of annual inspections to ensure hull integrity and quality and water- and weathertight closures. The full benefit of load lines would not be possible for fishing industry vessels, since they must be opened at sea as part of normal operations (Kime, 1986). The American Bureau of Shipping assigns load lines under delegation of authority in 46 U.S.C.A. §5107, with costs of the load-line inspection and corrective actions borne by the vessel owner. Similarly, Det norske Veritas Classification (DnVC) has been authorized to provide load-line assignments for U.S.-flag uninspected fish processing vessels that are either unclassed or classed by DnVC (USCG, 1990a). Coast Guard involvement is limited to enforcement. An interim-load-line-enforcement program was implemented by the Coast Guard for fish catcher/processor vessels in July 1990 (USCG, 1990b). Alternative 11: Require Vessel Classification In this alternative, fishing vessels meeting certain thresholds could be required (as new fish processing vessels will be under the CFIVSA) to be designed, built, and constructed according to ABS or similar organizations' rules. Vessels constructed and maintained under these rules would exhibit
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FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program a high level of fitness for service. This alternative could limit government involvement and resource needs, drawing instead on the private sector. Costs would be borne principally by affected parties. Costs could be significant, however, particularly for the individual owner/operator. Alternative 12: Require Vessel Inspection “Vessel inspection” as traditionally applied to commercial vessels and referred to in this report is the formal program conducted by the Coast Guard, introduced in Chapter 2 and described in Appendix G. Coast Guard inspection of merchant vessels is rigorous and thorough to ensure that vessels meet minimum standards of fitness for service. A Certificate of Inspection (COI) attests that fitness criteria have been met and promotes—but does not ensure—proper use or maintenance. This alternative would extend the Coast Guard's vessel inspection program to uninspected commercial fishing vessels. The need for basic fitness of state-numbered fishing vessels is no different from that for documented vessels. The general nature and causes of vessel-related safety problems for vessels of comparable length and employment appear consistent. However, the scope of inspection could accommodate variations in vessel types, local operating conditions, nature of the fisheries, and other factors. Implementing a Coast Guard program to inspect fishing vessels at a level comparable to that for merchant vessels could impose considerable infrastructure requirements on the agency and considerable costs to the industry. The Coast Guard does not have the budget or personnel to expand its existing infrastructure to implement an inspection program. As discussed in Chapter 1, the Coast Guard's 1971 study found that such a program is costly and could create economic hardships for many fishermen. The report recommended a modified inspection program that would combine periodic inspection of requisite items with an advisory service to owners of documented fishing vessels (USCG, 1971). A significant policy issue is administrative responsibility. Should the Coast Guard exercise exclusive authority for ensuring the fitness of state-numbered commercial fishing vessels operating on federal waters? The fishing industry is a hybrid situation. Even federally documented fishing vessels are required to obtain state licenses or permits for state-controlled fisheries. Conceptually, inspection of state-numbered vessels could be similar to state motor-vehicle safety and pollution inspections, perhaps drawing on that infrastructure (inasmuch as fishermen who drive cars are already within the system) and the existing relationship between the Coast Guard and state boating administrators concerning recreational vessels (see 46 U.S.C.A. Chapter 131). Alternatively,
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FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program potential jurisdictional conflicts could be resolved by expanding federal documentation requirements to all commercial fishing vessels, thereby providing exclusive jurisdiction for fitness to the Coast Guard. Inspection programs could be implemented by expanding the existing Coast Guard or state inspection infrastructures. Implementation issues for state involvement include determining whether to inspect state-numbered vessels, standardizing minimum requirements, establishing authority for such a program (this also applies to Coast Guard inspection), and funding the inspection infrastructure. Determining state interests was not within the scope of this study. A variation of full vessel inspection could be a program that falls between full inspection and compliance examinations, perhaps with an advisory service similar to what the Coast Guard considered in 1971. This option, for example, could employ a checklist similar to that in alternative 8, which could be jointly prepared by the vessel owner and a Coast Guard inspector prior to operation. Once major discrepancies are corrected, the vessel could be issued a document or sticker as evidence of compliance for a specified period. Additional implementation issues include modifying Coast Guard boarding policy to discontinue underway safety checks, unless there are apparent deficiencies, and use of neutral third parties or state infrastructures. The Coast Guard is already considering some of these options (Federal Register, 1990). Removing Vessels from Service Alternative 13: Remove Unsafe, Inefficient, or Excess Vessels from Service There has been limited federal or state authority to reduce excess harvesting capacity or eliminate unseaworthy vessels through vessel removal or retirement programs. Such programs are in wide use in some nations—Canada, Norway, and Japan, for example. In the United States, however, vessel removal in the form of a buyback has been used only in the Pacific salmon fishery during the early and mid-1980s; an Alaskan buyback program was declared invalid under the state constitution. The purpose was to reduce overcapitalization in Washington State resulting from federal Indian fishing-rights decisions, but there was no moratorium on new entrants (Jelvik, 1986; Rettig, 1986; Koch, 1985). This approach was eventually discontinued in favor of limiting entry through a licensing program. Alternative 13 envisions a way to place vessels into a standby status, if they are in good condition and fishery resources might subsequently allow reentry, or retire them permanently to benefit safety as a primary or secondary objective. Some vessels are not fit for service, as a result of either design, conversion or alteration, or material condition, while others may have become marginal producers through factors such as antiquated fishing gear. Presently, most fishing vessels are removed from service when they are uneconomical or so unseaworthy
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FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program that no one will operate them commercially or when they are claimed by the sea. Other methods employed have included intentional, attempted, and alleged scuttling of vessels to collect insurance money (Lazarus, 1990a; Providence Journal, 1990; Letz, 1986; see Salit, 1989; Sullivan, 1984a,b,c,d; Clendinen, 1984). Programs to remove excess harvesting capacity have generally been fishery-specific and have not necessarily precluded subsequent resale and use of the vessel in other fisheries or regions, which would merely shift capacity rather than eliminating it (see Mollet, 1986). Thus, the side effects of actions to reduce harvesting capacity need to be considered. One possible benefit of a vessel-removal program could be improved crew competency. As a fishery becomes overcapitalized, the returns are decreased and fishing effort is increased. The experienced crews go to the more profitable vessels. The least profitable vessels then are generally left to recruit inexperienced crews. As profitability is decreased, many vessels sail short-handed—i.e., a vessel ordinarily with a crew of four would sail with a crew of three. Removing the marginal producer could lead to a smaller but more experienced work force. Limiting the size of the U.S. fishing fleet through a comprehensive removal program has not been attempted, and legislation would be required. This approach could reduce excess harvesting capacity and eliminate marginal producers and unseaworthy vessels from the fleet. The committee believes that this approach is worthy of consideration, but detailed examination is beyond the scope of this study. However, alternative 8, alternative 9, alternative 10, alternative 11 through alternative 12, as well as the Coast Guard's authority under the CFIVSA to terminate operation of “unsafe” vessels, have varying potential to force removal of unseaworthy vessels from service without government compensation. SUMMARY There are no engineering (as distinct from economic) impediments to producing a fit fishing vessel, the questions about clear definition of small-vessel stability notwithstanding. Most—if not all—engineering and technical issues can be compensated for somehow. Vessel design and maintenance are clearly very important, but vessel performance cannot be separated from human interaction with the vessel as an integrated system. Of known causes, vessel-related causes account for a significant portion of vessel casualties and approximately a third of fatalities among commercial fishermen. The factor most easily addressed through engineering design and operating practices, and the one that accounts for over 85 percent of known causes of vessel casualties, is the material condition of the vessel and its equipment. Inadequacies pertaining to stability can be addressed by adherence to IMO, classification society, Coast Guard, or similar stability guidelines during design for new construction or conversion, and by operating restrictions, followed by examination to ensure
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FISHING VESSEL SAFETY: Blueprint for a National Program that a vessel is suited for its intended service. Stability criteria for fishing vessels under 79 feet in length are not completely developed. Techniques exist for determining intact stability of small fishing vessels at moderate cost, albeit in a static condition. Loading problems can be addressed through training and practicing good seamanship. Standard practices for human engineering design are published for marine systems and equipment, but have not been adapted or applied in the fishing industry. However, there are no universal mechanisms or procedures in place designed to ensure production, maintenance, or inspection of quality fishing vessels well suited for their intended service. Vessel-related safety-improvement alternatives (continued from preceding chapters) that might be employed are: establish minimum design, structural, stability, and material condition standards; expand equipment requirements; improve human engineering factors of vessels, deck layouts, and machinery; continue compliance examinations; require self-inspection; require marine surveys; require load lines; require vessel classification; require vessel inspection; and remove unsafe, inefficient, or excess vessels from service.
Representative terms from entire chapter: