Commercial fishing vessels of any size, both state-registered and federally-documented, must receive a safety examination no later than Oct. 15, 2015. This applies to all vessels operating beyond 3 nautical miles of the baseline of the U.S. territorial sea or the coastline of the Great Lakes or operating anywhere with more than 16 individuals on board (either inside 3 miles of the baseline or beyond 3 miles of the baseline). These vessels will need to complete this dockside safety examination at least once every 5 years, however, some vessels, depending on their operation or areas of service, may be subject to a more frequent examination schedule.
If you have had your vessel examined recently, but the issued safety decal expires before the new requirement takes effect, you should have your vessel re-examined prior to Oct. 15, 2015, if the above criteria applies.
If you do not have a valid safety decal after Oct. 15, 2015, you could be subject to operational controls that may be directed by a Captain of the Port Order. To help alleviate last-minute exam scheduling backlogs, do not wait until the last minute to request an examination. There will likely be a rush on examination requests closer to the scheduled October deadline.
In Mississippi and Alabama, vessel owners are encouraged to contact the Coast Guard Marine Safety Office in Mobile, Alabama, (phone:1-800-880-3193) to schedule an exam.