Inspection of Fishing Industry Vessels
The Coast Guard administers several programs intended to promote marine safety on federal waters, among them commercial vessel safety. Major program elements include vessel documentation, vessel inspection, licensing of personnel, and pilotage. Currently. the agency formally inspects 12 different types of merchant vessels, including tankers, cargo ships, and passenger vessels of 100 net tons or greater. Of fishing industry vessels (i.e., fishing vessels, fish tender vessels, and fish processing vessels), only one—a large processor— is known to be inspected.
A fundamental question is whether safety can be improved through vessel inspection. This was answered affirmatively by the analysis presented in Chapter 3 and Chapter 4. Major findings include the following:
About 85 percent of casualties to documented fishing industry vessels from known causes are closely associates with failed material and equipment.
Lack of design and stability problems contribute to a significant number of vessel total loss incidents.
Over 65 percent of all Coast Guard search and rescue (SAR) cases involving fishing industry vessels have been attributed to failure of hulls, propulsion equipment, or other machinery.
This appendix examines technical characteristics of vessel inspection requirements imposed by 46 U.S.C.A. Chapter 33 and the efficacy of extending it to some or all uninspected fishing industry vessels to improve vessel and equipment fitness for service.
STATUTORY AND REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS
The national fishing industry fleet consists of federally documented vessels authorized to participate in the fishing trade and vessels bearing state numbers used for commercial fishing. Vessel documentation and state numbering are registration programs. Registration records do not include data on how many vessels actively fish or statistics about their operations, indications about their physical (i.e., material) condition, hull forms, or fishing gear.
A Certificate of Documentation (not to be confused with a Certificate of Inspection) is required to operate vessels of at least 5 net tons in certain trades and must be renewed annually. It is evidence of vessel nationality and, with exceptions, permits vessels to be subject to preferred mortgages. An official number is assigned to the vessel, which remains with the vessel while it is under U.S. registry regardless of name or ownership changes. The number must be permanently marked inside the vessel's structure.
The Certificate of Documentation may be endorsed for certain trades. The endorsement is commonly referred to as a “license.” A vessel's document may be endorsed for many eligible trades (e.g., registry, coastwise, Great Lakes, fisheries, or recreational), but it must have a fisheries license endorsement if it is going to engage in fishing. This endorsement entitles the vessel to fish and land its catch, wherever caught, in the United States. It pertains to the legal privilege to engage in the fishery trade, is issued without regard to a vessel's suitability or fitness for such service, and does not replace vessel licenses required by other federal or by state authorities to harvest specific species. By federal law, a vessel permanently loses its fishery license endorsement if it undergoes rebuilding outside the United States (46 U.S.C.A. Chapter 12).
The following vessels, if at least 5 net tons and wholly owned by a U.S. citizen, are eligible for a fishery license endorsement:
vessels built in the United States,
captured vessels, and
vessels granted fisheries privileges by special legislation.
In March 1990, documentation data recorded in the Coast Guard's Marine Safety Information System (MSIS) indicated there were about 30,000 documented vessels with fishery endorsements. However, a vessel 's actual age in the fishing industry is not monitored by Coast Guard data bases or MSIS. Thus, the
PRINCIPAL FISH TENDER AND PROCESSING VESSEL OPERATIONS
A large number of fishing industry vessels are employed as fish tender vessels in Alaska, notably in the salmon fisheries. Fishing vessels often make ideal platforms for this type of activity. For example, crab vessels with chilled seawater tanks make excellent platforms for transporting fresh salmon from remote locations to shoreside cold storage and processing plants. Some fishing industry vessels are configured for both catching and processing fish. Some fish processors are also used periodically as fish tenders.
In recent years, about 1,400 vessels have been issued permits by the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission in Juneau, Alaska, for tender/packer operations. During 1987, about 37 percent were 40 feet or less in length and about 43 percent were between 41 and 78 feet. The remaining 20 percent were 79 feet or longer and potentially subject to load line regulations if they are got fishing vessels chartered as “part-time” tenders (i.e., a fishing vessel is one that fishes more of the year than it tenders).
National Marine Fisheries Service and Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission data indicate that there are about 200 vessels that process fish. The Seventeenth Coast Guard District, Juneau, Alaska, estimates that about 50 of these appear to be configured solely as floating processors. The others may Dave catching or tender capabilities. It is not known how many fishing industry vessels cross over between the three categories or how many are subject to load line regulations.
number of vessels principally configured as fish tendering or processing vessels cannot be directly detetermined from Coast Guard data (see box).
The remainder of the fishing industry fleet, about 80,000 vessels, bear state numbers issued by state authorities (except in Alaska, where state numbers are administered by the Coast Guard). State numbers are required for virtually all boats by federal law, and these data provide a way to estimate the general population of vessels below 5 net tons. However, there is no fisheries endorsement akin to that required for use of documented vessels in the fisheries trade.
Only vessels measuring 5 net tons and larger are eligible for documentation; therefore, evidence of tonnage is required. Tonnages may be physically detetermined (Convention, Standard, or Dual Tonnage) or calculated based on an owner's statement of dimensions (Simplified Measurement). With certain exceptions, this latter method is available as an owner 's option for all vessels less than 79 feet in length (46 CFR 69, Subpart E).
As of January 1, 1986, new vessels at least 79 feet overall in length that will be documented or that engage on a foreign voyage are required to be measured under the Convention Measurement Method (46 CFR, Subpart B). This method is based on the rules of the 1969 Tonnage Convention.
Tonnages are used extensively to regulate vessels. (The Coast Guard employs tonnage in its vessel inspection regulations and as a basis for personnel licensing and for vessel manning [see Wiese, 1978].) A vessel required to be measured under the Convention Measurement Method may, at the option of the owner, be measured also under the preexisting national systems. Tonnages derived under those systems (Standard and Dual Tonnage Methods [46 CFR 69, Subparts C and D]) may be used when a vessel is regulated domestically on its tonnage. In some cases, the regulatory tonnage may be used also for limited regulatory applications under the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention, International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution (MARPOL), and Standards for Training, Certification, and Watchstanding (STCW) Convention.
American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) was delegated the ministerial functions of physically measuring commercial and recreational vessels of any size and issuing tonnage certificates. ABS forwards tonnage certificates to a Coast Guard office where the vessel documentation records are maintained. For vessels less than 79 feet long, the simplified method is incorporated in the vessel documentation process.
While all commercial vessels of at least 5 net tons are required to be documented, “vessel inspection” is not required for all documented vessels. Vessel inspection as used in this report refers to visits aboard documented vessels by Coast Guard marine safety personnel to verify compliance with regulations issued under the authority of 46 U.S.C.A. Chapter 33.
Merchant vessel inspection is well established in law and regulation and includes a large number of small coastal and harbor vessels. Title 46 of the U.S. Code comprises the U.S. shipping laws; Title 46 of the U.S. Code of
VESSEL INSPECTION POLICY
Vessel Inspections Vessel inspection policy is developed to ensure the uniform and consistent administration and enforcement of federal laws and regulations designed to protect individuals, their private property, and the marine environment from the consequences of incidents involving materially unsafe vessels. Inspection is the process of examining a vessel to determine its reasonable, probable compliance with minimum safety standards over a projected period of time. A Certificate of Inspection (COI) attests to that reasonable probability.
Other Examinations These are examinations that may be made while the vessel is in operation and include all other inspections and visits to the vessel by Coast Guard marine safety personnel. Failure to meet certain standards may result in withdrawal of, or issuance of amendments or requirements to, the COI issued to a vessel; action taken against its operating personnel under suspension and revocation proceedings; or civil penalties imposed against the vessel's owner or operator or other responsible party. (Note: “Other examinations” of inspected vessels generally do not include maritime law enforcement boardings [compliance examinations], although such boardings are within the Coast Guard's jurisdiction and authority.)
Source: USCG Marine Safety Manual, Volume II (COMDTINST 16000.7).
Federal Regulations delineates applicable vessel inspection regulations. The Coast Guard's Marine Safety Manual, Volume II (U.S. Coast Guard [USCG], 1985), serves as the principal document guiding administration of material inspection regulatians. Refinements to inspection laws, regulations, and policy have been heavily influenced by lessons learned from past marine disasters.
General Inspection Requirements
U.S. shipping laws and regulations impose vessel inspection requirements based on tonnages and other parameters and periodic in-service checks and reinspections. Vessel inspection policy has two components—“inspections ” and “other examinations” (see box). Vessel inspections can be extensive, and there are significant resource implications to both the government and fishing industry that could make implementation of such a program very expensive and difficult. This is suggested by the nature and scope of vessel inspection discussed later.
Administration of vessel inspection requirements constitutes an action-forcing mechanism for motivating and achieving compliance. Satisfactory completion leads to a Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection (COI), which attests that the vessel has satisfied applicable criteria. A successful vessel inspection does not necessarily mean that a vessel is safe, however. It does mean that masters or individuals in charge are provided with a vessel that has been certified to minimum standards deemed essential for safe operations. With periodic preventive and corrective maintenance, this fitness for service is expected to endure for the period for which the COI is valid.
Fishing Industry Vessels Subject to Inspection
Over 99 percent of fishing industry vessels have not been regulated for safety except for general safety equipment and navigational safety requirements applicable to all uninspected vessels. Only fish processing vessels of more than 5,000 gross tons and fish tender vessels of more than 500 gross tons are subject to formal vessel inspection (46 U.S.C.A. §3301). Only one fish processing vessel, a converted container ship, has been identified by the Coast Guard as subject to vessel inspection. Virtually all other fishing industry vessels fall below thresholds that would trigger the vessel inspection requirement.
Fish tender vessels and fish processing vessels 79 feet or longer are subject to load line regulations and associated inspection requirements (except where grandfathered) to ensure the integrity of the hull and all watertight and weathertight closures (46 U.S.C.A. Chapter 51). Fish processing and tendering vessels, with few exceptions, conduct their operations in the Alaska region (see box, p. 224). Fishing vessels are exempt from load line regulations (46 U.S.C.A. §3302).
Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Safety Act (CFIVSA) of 1988
The CFIVSA (P.L. 100-424) provides the Coast Guard with authority to bring the commercial fishing fleet under more rigorous safety regulation. The CFIVSA requires this study to recommend whether or to what degree a vessel inspection program should be used to improve the safety of fishing industry vessels. The act applies in varying degrees to all uninspected fishing, fish processing, and fish tender vessels. This includes federally documented and stage-numbered vessels not subject to vessel inspection. As a practical matter, the distinction between the three categories of vessels covered by the CFIVSA is sometimes tenuous as a result of multiple uses.
Safety requirements for all fishing industry vessels operating beyond the Boundary Line (essentially those that operate on coastal waters and high seas) or with more than 16 individuals aboard were increased by the CFIVSA. The act established authority for even more rigorous safety requirements for fishing
industry vessels that operate beyond the Boundary Line with more than 16 individuals aboard that were built or converted after December 31, 1989. The act also mandated certification to classification society survey and classification requirements for uninspected fish processing vessels built or converted after July 27, 1990. Furthermore. the act requires examination of fish processing vessels once every 2 years. It also requires the Coast Guard to conduct a separate study of fish processing vessels that are not classed or surveyed by an organization approved by the Secretary of Transportation. The purpose of the fish processing vessel study is to determine what hull and machinery requirements should apply to ensure adequate maintenance and safe operation at sea (P.L. 100-424).
Occupational Safety and Health
To the extent that the Coast Guard has no regulations dealing with particular occupational hazards on uninspected fishing industry vessels, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates occupational safety and health, as set forth in section 4(b)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970. When OSHA conducts inspections aboard fishing industry vessels, the Coast Guard is advised in advance and reserves the right to accompany OSHA compliance officers. Specific occupational hazards noted by OSHA are referred to the Coast Guard if the hazards are addressed by Coast Guard regulations. Otherwise, the hazards are cited under OSHA regulations.
The Coast Guard and OSHA have maintained liaison concerning promulgation of safety regulations in response to the CFIVSA. However, there are areas for which the Coast Guard has not proposed regulations for occupational safety and health. In particular, the occupational safety and health of industrial personnel working in industrial facilities that process fish aboard fishing industry vessels is anticipated to remain an OSHA responsibility under 29 CFR 1910, General Industry Standards. Issues addressed for afloat industrial facilities include: machinery and machine guarding, ergonomics, noise, ventilation, personnel protective equipment, materials handling and storage, electrical systems, and lighting conditions.
OSHA conducts “programmed” (i.e., scheduled) safety inspections of fishing industry vessels that process fish products and have aboard 11 or more employees. Pursuant to appropriations limitations, OSHA is precluded from conducting programmed safety inspections of worksites in the fishing industry with 10 or fewer employees. Regardless of the number of worksite employees, OSHA has authority to conduct health inspections aboard uninspeeted fishing industry vessels in response to imminent danger situations, fatalities, catastrophes, complaints, referrals, and follow-ups of a previous inspection. A nominal number of unprogrammed inspections are done annually. Specific sources of notification and information leading to an unprogrammed inspection include:
accidents reports, media reports, employee complaints, and referrals from other agencies, companies, or inspectors.
A major limitation on OSHA inspections is that OSHA has jurisdiction over vessels only when they are operating within the limits of state territorial seas. Generally, this is within 3 nautical miles of shore, except for the Gulf Coast of Florida and Texas, where 3 marine leagues, or about 9 nautical miles, defines OSHA's seaward jurisdictional limit. Additionally, vessels, including some factory trawlers or other catcher/processors, that simply head and gut fish prior to onboard storage are not defined as “fish processors” by 46 U.S.C.A. §2101, although they are generally treated as such by some states. OSHA does not systematically regulate the safety of industrial facilities aboard these vessels, although unprogrammed inspections may be conducted as previously noted.
ADMINISTRATION OF VESSEL INSPECTION
Coast Guard objectives for administration of vessel inspection are shown in the box (USCG, 1985). The owner is responsible for the safety of the inspected vessel. The master or individual in charge, often referred to as the operator, is responsible for operating it safely (the term operator is also commonly used to refer to a company that charters a vessel). Vessel inspection does not remove the owner' s responsibility for vessel seaworthiness; it verifies fitness for service. The Coast Guard uses vessel inspection as a strategy to check the diligence of vessel owners in ensuring that the vessel is properly constructed, configured, equipped, and maintained. The owner must also keep the Coast Guard apprised of major alterations or repairs. Vessel owners are responsible for ensuring that their management, employees, and crews adhere to regulated safety requirements. However, owners sometimes fail to meet their obligations, necessitating enforcement measures.
Most fishing industry vessels fall into the harvest sector, which is where most vessel and personnel casualties are recorded. Therefore, the remainder of this appendix is directed toward vessels configured principally as fishing vessels. However, the basic analysis is relevant for vessels that cross over into fish tender operations or are configured as catcher/processors, including head-and-gut boats. The basic analysis is also relevant to the construction, maintenance, and outfitting of fish tender and processing vessels. It does not apply to their industrial processing capabilities.
The Vessel Inspection Process
Coast Guard procedures include approval of plans and on-site inspection of items during and after construction (or conversion), installation of equipment, or repairs. The on-site inspection verifies that the new installation or repairs follow approved plans and meet federal regulations.
COAST GUARD VESSEL INSPECTION OBJECTIVES
The Coast Guard administers vessel inspection laws and regulations to promote safe, well-equipped vessels that are suitable for their intended service without placing an unnecessary burden upon the economic and operational needs of the marine industry. In determining inspection requirements and procedures, inspection personnel must recognize and consider the following factors:
Source: USCG Marine Safety Manual, Volume II (COMDTINST 16000.7).
Vessel inspection addresses the following:
service (i.e., the allowable trades in which the vessel may engage).
Designs of vessels subject to inspection must be approved by the Coast Guard before the owner or builder can legally begin construction or apply for inspection. Depending on a vessel's size, its plans are approved either by the Coast Guard Marine Safety Center in Washington, D.C., or the cognizant Officer in Charge of Marine Inspection at the port nearest where the vessel is being built (46 CFR 91.20).
In the case of Mobile Offshore Drilling Units (MODUs), the Coast Guard accepts designs of certain “industrial systems” certified by a registered professional engineer as allowed under 46 CFR 58.60-11. If a vessel is to be “classed,” many plans may be reviewed by the ABS under an agreement with the Coast Guard enabled by 46 U.S.C.A. §3316 (USCG, 1982). For all other commercial vessels subject to inspection, designs are reviewed by Coast Guard technical personnel at the Marine Safety Center or by marine inspectors under the cognizant Officer in Charge, Marine Inspection.
The following features typically require review to verify that standards and requirements have been met (46 CFR 91.55):
general arrangement plan;
subdivision and stability;
lifesaving equipment; and
After plans are approved, an “Application for Inspection of U.S. Vessel,” Form CG-3752, is filed with the cognizant Officer in Charge, Marine Inspection. The form serves as formal notification that the owner, master, or builder desires the vessel to be inspected, when it will be ready, and its location. A Coast Guard marine inspector, an ABS marine surveyor, or both will attend the vessel throughout its construction to see that it is constructed in accordance with approved plans, Coast Guard regulations, and ABS rules. When construction is completed, tests and inspections are conducted to ensure that systems such as steering, propulsion control, and fire control perform to prescribed standards (46 CFR 91.25).
During the final days of outfitting, an inclining experiment is conducted to determine the vessel's intact stability. The experiment consists of placing specified weights at prescribed locations and measuring to verify theoretical
TRIM AND STABILITY BOOK INFORMATION
Source: USCG Marine Safety Manual, Volume II.
stability data. The validated or corrected data (see box) are then incorporated into a Trim and Stability Book that is reviewed by the Coast Guard and must remain onboard the vessel. It provides information needed by the master or operator to readily ascertain the vessel 's stability under varying loading conditions. All manned vessels reviewed for stability receive a U.S. Coast Guard stability letter which, in the case of certain small vessels, such as small passenger vessels, may contain sufficient guidance to obviate the need for a Trim and Stability Book.
Certificate of Inspection (COI)
The COI is issued only after all applicable regulations have been complied with. This includes ensuring that required lifesaving equipment is on board and in good condition, that the fire and bilge pumping systems work, and that electrical systems are of the correct size and material. Vessels with a COI are continuously monitored using MSIS, until the owner surrenders the COI. When this occurs, the Coast Guard drops the vessel from the active list in MSIS.
The Coast Guard issues a COI once all of the above steps have been successfully completed. It certifies that the vessel is fit for the route and service for which it is intended, provided that it is operated according to the COI's terms and conditions. A COI, subject to annual inspection, is valid for 1 to 3 years, depending on the vessel, and must be renewed prior to expiration.
A typical COI specifies amounts and types of safety equipment that must be carried, cites dates various examinations— such as drydocking — were conducted and when the stability book or letter were issued, manning requirements, numbers of persons allowed on board, and the route and trades in which the vessel may engage. The COI is the final document issued to a new vessel when construction and inspection are completed. It must be kept current in order for insurance, charter agreements, and similar contractual arrangements to remain in force. The COI is usually posted in the pilothouse (46 U.S.C.A. §3309-3314).
Recertification and Reinspection
Inspected vessels are required to be recertified and reinspected periodically (46 U.S.C.A. §3307-3308). For example, 65-foot small passenger vessels, comparable in size to many fishing vessels, are required to be inspected and recertified every 3 years and “reinspected ” annually. A recertification is a complete inspection of the vessel to verify that all the applicable federal regulations are still met. In general, the scope of reinspections is the same as for a full inspection, varying in detail according to the conditions found at the reingpection. They focus on the vessel's equipment, watertight closures, operating practices, and accessible parts of the hull and machinery. Special attention is given to fire-fighting and lifesaving equipment. Parts of the hull and machinery that are prone to neglect and rapid deterioration are all examined. The inspector may conduct at his discretion a comprehensive inspection if conditions warrant.
As a vessel ages, maintenance and wear are increasingly important factors. Accordingly, the inspector must ascertain that all required fire-fighting, lifesaving, electrical, and mechanical equipment is on board and in satisfactory condition. If the vessel meets all the requirements (46 CFR 91.27), the COI remains in effect.
Underwater Body Inspections
Underwater bodies of vessels subject to inspection are also required to be thoroughly examined. The initial underwater body check, referred to as a drydock examination, is conducted in conjunction with the initial vessel inspection. Thereafter, the drydock examination is got directly linked to vessel inspection or reinspection, but may occur concurrently depending on the frequency established for underwater body inspections of different categories of vessels. For example, drydock examination is required every 18 months for 65-foot small passenger vessels (46 CFR 176.15). Because of the more severe operating environment, a more frequent underwater body examination might be appropriate for fishing industry vessels.
A drydock examination by the Coast Guard inspector includes:
underwater hull and appendages;
through hull fittings;
sea valves; and
In conducting the examination, the Coast Guard inspector also crawls through all compartments that include hull plates. The examination determines whether the structure is satisfactory: whether there are any holes, rotten wood, wasted fasteners, or other wasted internal components (“wasted” refers to the disappearance of metal due to corrosion). Inspectors are required to confirm that the vessel will remain seaworthy until its next required Coast Guard drydocking.
In order to be issued a COI, an inspected vessel must meet safety equipment requirements. It must have specified lifesaving and fire-fighting equipment, an emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB), pyrotechnics, line-throwing appliance, a fire control plan, and other safety items. All safety equipment must be Coast Guard-approved. Safety equipment that is not Coast Guard-approved may not be carried aboard inspected vessels.
The 1974 Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention requires most commercial ships in ocean service engaged in international trade to be issued Cargo Ship Safety Construction and Cargo Ship Safety Equipment Certificates or a Passenger Ship Safety Certificate. These certificates state the numbers and types of lifesaving and other safety equipment aboard and are issued following a satisfactory inspection by a representative of the vessel's flag state (46 CFR 31.40, 71.75, 91.60, 176.35).
APPLYING VESSEL INSPECTION TO FISHING INDUSTRY VESSELS
The entire vessel inspection process could be employed for all fishing industry vessels or to the same degree for various categories or sizes of vessels in order to obtain some potential safety benefits.
Effectiveness of Vessel Inspection in Improving Safety
In determining whether to apply vessel inspection to fishing industry vessels, a key issue is whether inspection is effective in improving safety. If so, to what degree and at what cost? Studies of the effectiveness of the Coast Guard inspection program in reducing vessel-related casualties or fatalities or
in improving safety performance of vessels and equipment are not available; they also are not available on the benefits versus the costs of vessel inspection.
A rough indication of the relative safety performance of different segments of the commercial fleet may be obtained by comparing percentages of “involvements” (defined as participation of a vessel in a casualty) with the natures and causes of casualties (see USCG, 1990c). This approach assumes that exposure and usage factors are equivalent for the categories of vessels compared, does not generate casualty rates, does not by itself provide a measure of the overall material status of the fleet, and is not a direct measure of the effectiveness of inspection. Thus, the comparison that follows is at best a broad approximation.
The nature and cause data provided by the Coast Guard for comparing safety performance records consisted of CASMAIN data for fishing industry vessels and nonfishing/nonbarge vessels. The latter category includes inspected vessels (e.g., ships, commercial passenger vessels) and uninspected towing industry vessels. The data, summarized in Figure G-1 and Figure G-2, indicate that material failure incidents and vessel factors as causes of casualties involving fishing vessels are twice as frequent as those involving other commercial vessels.
Including uninspected towing industry vessels in the data limit their utility for assessing whether comparable inspected vessels are more or less prone to vessel-related casualties than are fishing industry vessels. The nature of tug and barge operations results in significant exposure to allision/collision and grounding in restricted waters. The repair costs can easily reach CASMAIN
reporting thresholds. Thus, significant differences in these operations may bias the comparison.
What can be said is that operators of towing vessels are required to be licensed. This forces attention to safe operation of the vessel, including the physical condition of the vessel and equipment. Towing industry vessels are frequently units within corporate fleets. As such. they are more frequently operated under closer observation by management and Coast Guard marine safety officials than are fishing industry vessels. Unlike fishing vessels, towing industry vessels are usually operated under or in support of contractual arrangements rather than as a means of engaging in self-employment. This also tends to force attention to performing whatever maintenance is required to ensure that the vessel is available to meet its contractual obligations. All these factors motivate attention to maintenance.
Given the inconclusive findings from the data and analytical techniques and the absence of definitive research, the effectiveness of inspection as a safety-improvement alternative devolves to value judgments, collective opinions, and testimonial evidence. There are minimal material condition standards for each category of vessel subject to inspection. The nature of vessel inspection forces continuing attention to these standards. Generally, the conditions of vessels in other commercial sectors are somewhat better than they are in the fishing industry, considering the prevalence of material failures. The apparent better condition of inspected vessels is at least partly attributed to inspection and licensing requirements that compel operators to maintain certain equipment.
Which— inspection or licensing— contributes more to safety was got ascertained from the available data, nor was the relationship between benefits and costs.
Criteria for Establishing Which Fishing Industry Vessels Should Be Inspected
Safety performance, the nature of operations, regional operating conditions, and numbers of personnel on board could serve as criteria for determining or prioritizing which fishing industry vessels would benefit from inspection. The data reveal that conditions for which inspection could play a role exist across the entire national fishing industry fleet. It is evident that the potential consequences of marine casualties can vary significantly between vessels and operating environments. While the data are got conclusive as to which fisheries or activities are more prone to casualties, some vessels and fishermen are more likely to be involved in vessel-related casualties and fatalities than others.
Safety Performance Records
There is a common perception among fishermen that large, offshore vessels are where the safety problems lie and that vessels operating inshore do got need federal safety intervention, including various provisions of the CFIVSA. Findings that stand out are:
Safety problems relating to material condition exist throughout the entire fishing fleet, on all sizes and types of vessels, on all fishing grounds.
Vessel-related casualties characterized as material failures are disproportionately high in the North Atlantic and West Coast regions (Figure G-3).
Eighty-two percent of SAR events categorized as disabled and adrift involve failures of hulls, propulsion systems, or machinery (see Figure G-4).
The largest number of vessel-related casualties and fatalities recorded in CASMAIN data involve vessels under 79 feet.
Seventy-three percent of SAR cases in which property was lost or in danger of being lost involved vessels under 65 feet operating inshore and on inland waters.
Very few vessel-related fatalities are recorded in CASMAIN involving commercial fishing vessels under 26 feet (see Appendix D).
The average number of fatalities per vessel-related fatality incident is slightly higher for fishing industry vessels 65 feet or longer.
Fishing industry vessels 79 feet or longer have significantly higher vessel casualty and fatality rates than those under 79 feet.
No single parameter that could be universally used as a threshold for imposing inspection stands out in the data. Rather, they indicate that a combination of parameters and different levels of inspection might be appropriate. Vessel
attributes for imposing inspection options could include vessel safety performance records by type, construction materials, length, age, or other suitable measure.
Significant regional variations in incidents involving vessels stand out in the CASMAIN data for documented vessels (Figure G-3). Material failure incidents are especially pronounced for the North Atlantic and West Coast regions. Contributing factors include operating environments, the vessel characteristics, and maintenance. While the data are not conclusive, the implication is that regional factors are important enough to be considered in framing vessel-improvement measures.
A vessel's operating environment can significantly affect the material condition of a vessel and its equipment. A significant number of fishing vessels of all sizes and most factory trawlers and fish processing and tendering vessels operate in Alaskan and adjacent North Pacific waters, although many are homeported in Washington and Oregon. These vessels are routinely exposed to harsh operating conditions in transit and on the fishing grounds that accelerate deterioration and create physical severe stress on the hull and equipment. Fishing vessels operating in the North Atlantic region and in Pacific Northwest waters similarly experience seasonally harsh conditions and deterioration.
A vessel's physical characteristics can also influence the types of incidents. The age of a large number of vessels in both the North Atlantic and West Coast regions is assessed as a contributing factor to disproportionately high numbers of material failure incidents—older vessels have higher rates of routine wear— in the aggregate data. Another contributing factor could be low profitability in some fisheries, which could adversely affect the ability to afford adequate equipment maintenance.
One would expect that material failure incidents would also be disproportionately high in Alaska; however, this is not indicated in the data. The reasons are not clear. Considerable attention has been directed toward safety in Alaska by Sea Grant, state educational organizations, and the fishing industry. Some vessels, particularly larger ones, have backup or redundant systems. Also, many of the vessels represent high capital investments; therefore, there are economic incentives to maintain vessel and equipment. On the other hand the region's operating environment can lead to conditions that might quickly cause a minor problem to turn into a major incident, such as fire, flooding, or sinking.
Another factor meriting attention is the number of personnel aboard, primarily because of the potential for high loss of life. Factory trawlers, for
example, have larger crews (including industrial workers), sometimes as high as 50-60. This is a new development for U.S. commercial fishing, which traditionally has been dominated by small and moderately sized vessels. Fish processing vessels, depending on size, may have more than 100 industrial workers aboard. The CASMAIN data for 1982-1987 indicated that many fatal incidents resulted in only one fatality and that the rate of incidence varied only nominally in relation to vessel length. When non-vessel-related fatalities were screened out, the number of fatalities per incident increased modestly relative to vessel length; however, the fatality rate increased dramatically (see Chapter 3).
During the study, a factory trawler with more than 30 persons aboard capsized in the Bering Sea during moderate weather while hauling in its trawl. The vessel and nine persons, including a National Marine Fisheries Service agent, were lost. Anecdotal information suggests that both vessel-related and human causes were associated with the disaster (Nalder, 1990; Matsen, 1990). Unless vessels are required to have load lines under 46 U.S.C.A. Chapter 51 or are subject to inspection, there are no minimum federal material condition standards or requirements that they must meet prior to operation. This will change for certain fishing industry vessels under the CFIVSA, as discussed earlier. The high estimated fatality rate for large fishing industry vessels from vessel-related casualties and the demonstrated potential for loss of life identify the size of the personnel complement as an important measure in determining whether to impose vessel inspection and to what degree.
Scope of Inspection
Conceptually. inspection could be applied to vessels, installed systems, and equipment. If inspection is selected as a safety-improvement alternative, what items to inspect and to what degree need to be determined. All primary and contributing causes of casualties need to be better identified, along with specific regional needs, in order to create a cost-effective approach for dealing with actual rather than perceived problems.
From a technical basis, the Coast Guard's existing inspection program is reasonably suited to large fishing industry vessels, which are comparable to inspected merchant vessels. Technical guidelines are available for design and construction of most fishing industry vessels, including NVIC 5-86 (USCG, 1986b) and the ABS Guide for Building and Classing Fishing Vessels (ABS, 1989), although additional guidelines are needed relevant to small fishing vessel stability. Various additional technical standards and guidelines could be adapted from those used by other fishing countries (see Appendix C) or developed especially for the fishing industry.
The Coast Guard's vessel inspection program is resource intensive. Neither the Coast Guard nor industry overall appears to have the resources needed to implement a full-scale program of this type in the fishing industry. A less costly inspection alternative, such as self-inspection, marine surveys, or load lines, could be implemented more easily in the near term.
If the full Coast Guard vessel inspection process were expanded to include fishing industry vessels, the logical first step would be to bring the larger vessels under the program. This is being done de facto by the CFIVSA requirement for classification of new or converted fish processing vessels. Fishing industry vessels already subject to or otherwise involved with classification, marine surveys, and load lines may already meet some of the vessel inspection criteria, and the burden of formal vessel inspection could be less onerous on them.
Extending classification requirements or the full vessel inspection process to all fishing industry vessels 79 feet or longer could be predicated upon the estimated higher vessel casualty and fatality rates presented in Chapter 3 and the potential for high loss of life. However, the estimated rates are not statistically valid, and it cannot be said that they would apply equally to all large fishing industry vessels. Some vessels and fleets are better maintained than others. Because there are relatively few larger vessels, a modest research effort into fleet composition and vessel material condition could provide more insight on which larger vessels, if any, should be brought under the Coast Guard' s vessel inspection program or a less rigorous inspection regime.
Fishing industry vessels under 79 feet present a different problem. Clearly, the largest number of breakdowns and vessel-related casualties and fatalities involve smaller vessels fishing relatively close to the coast. Generally, the smaller the vessel, the lower the casualty rate— although even the smaller vessel rates characterize commercial fishing as a dangerous occupation. But the data do not provide a sufficient resource for identifying and selectively applying a rigorous inspection program to those smaller vessels most prone to vessel-related problems or inadequate maintenance.
It appears that good material condition can be maintained. For example, self-insurance groups require meeting material condition and equipment standards. Thus, short of full vessel inspection, other measures hold promise of meaningful benefits at less cost to the industry and the government.
Potential Inspection Organizations
If federal inspection were required for the fishing industry, oversight would naturally devolve to the Coast Guard because of its longstanding leadership for this function. However, such a role would not necessarily mean that inspections should be performed by federal personnel. The nature and scope of vessel
inspection would imply at which organizational levels such a program could be most effectively conducted. Who bears the costs of inspection is important but beyond the scope of this study.
The Coast Guard has a nationwide infrastructure, including field stations in or near most major fishing ports, which could be used to frame, oversee, or conduct an inspection program. However, the agency does not have the resources in reserve to establish or operate a full-scale vessel-inspection program for even documented fishing industry vessels. It has already established limited precedents that accept services provided by third parties, and the CFIVSA expands this approach. These precedents hold potential for more widespread usage in support of safety initiatives in the fishing industry. The Coast Guard advised the committee that some third-party interest has already been expressed.
The following noninclusive list of organizations potentially could be authorized to provide inspection services.
Marine Survey Organizations
A number of marine surveyors specialize in fishing industry vessels. This activity will also grow under the CFIVSA. As of August 1990, one marine surveyor organization and one marine survey company have expressed interest to the Coast Guard in an expanded third-party role in improving safety. Currently, however, the number of marine surveyors who specialize in fishing vessel surveys is insufficient to rapidly expand marine surveys to larger portions of the fishing industry (Expert, 1990).
Classification societies such as ABS and Det norske Veritas are active in fishing vessel safety in the United States, and this role will increase under the CFIVSA. Extending classification requirements to more fishing industry vessels is one way to improve the fitness for service short of full inspection. However, the cost of building and maintaining a vessel to class standards is an important element that must be considered.
The questionable viability of improving safety through active involvement of the insurance industry was presented in Chapter 7. However, it has been demonstrated that self-insurance groups can improve the physical condition of vessels by admitting only good risks and by applying more rigorous vessel and equipment safety standards than presently enforced by the Coast Guard. Expanding self-insurance groups may be possible in some areas, but has little
potential for widespread application for various reasons, not the least of which is the marginal profitability of many existing fishing operations.
The potential for state government administration of vessel inspection was introduced in Chapter 4. For example, extension of motor vehicle safety inspection programs to state-numbered fishing vessels is an intriguing concept. Potential infrastructures already exist in some cases and could be adapted for vessel safety inspections. Such a program could be self-supporting through inspection fees. However, there is an important distinction relevant to inspection as practiced by the Coast Guard. State automobile inspections are analogous to Coast Guard compliance activity in that they check— albeit on a regularly scheduled basis— that a vehicle meets all applicable safety (and pollution) laws and regulations. The states do not inspect vehicles during construction, however. Thus, if inspection were to be administered by the states, it would most likely take the form of a shore-based compliance examination program. State boating administrators focus their attention toward the recreational boating public (an estimated 17 million recreational vessels) and rely on a pass-back of federal funds to support many of their activities. Most states have been reluctant to impose recreational vessel operator training or licensing, although a few are considering this action on a selective basis, principally for young operators. There is no indication that the states would willingly undertake a safety program for fishing vessels or that such programs would be undertaken without funding support from the federal government.
Industry Organizations or Associations
Various fishing industry organizations have actively promoted safety, conducted training sessions, provided videotapes on inspection and maintenance, and engaged in similar activities. None is known to provide services akin to inspection, although safety materials from industry sources provide guidance on vessel maintenance. It does not appear that any industry organization is structured to undertake national or regional administration of an inspection program. However, drawing on the experience of self-insurance groups, it is potentially feasible for owners' associations to establish and administer safety inspection programs. If accepted by the Coast Guard, they could provide an alternative to direct federal involvement.
Owners or Operators
Some owners and operators provide or conduct substantial programs to ensure the physical condition and safety of their vessels. The Coast Guard
potentially could accredit existing programs of this type that meet whatever criteria might be imposed in lieu of federal inspections. This option is potentially most applicable for fleet owners.
If self-inspection were adopted to motivate attention to vessel and equipment condition, administrative responsibility would fall on vessel owners, regardless of vessel size. Whether to conduct such an inspection with vessel personnel or engage a marine surveyor would be the responsibility of the owner and operator.