US Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteers work to fill fishing boat safety check gap

Friday, July 13, 2012

WASHINGTON —The U.S. Coast Guard’s commercial fishing vessel examination program has helped save lives since 1991, but a new federal requirement means civilian volunteers of the Coast Guard Auxiliary will soon have a bigger role in checking boats and equipment headed out to sea.

Ken Lawrenson coordinates the work of civilian, active duty Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary vessel examiners throughout Alaska. He said harvesting crab, cod and halibut from the rich fishing grounds of the North Pacific and Bering Sea is “one of the most dangerous jobs a person can have.”

Alaska has fewer than 30 qualified examiners to check about 3,800 vessels that will fall under the new requirement, and other regions face similar potential work overloads.

“I wish I had four times as many,” Lawrenson said. “We’re looking to the Auxiliary to augment the workforce.”

Vessel safety examinations have been voluntary so far, but a provision in the federal Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 makes them mandatory for all fishing vessels operating in U.S. waters .   The provision is expected to go into effect in late 2012.

“We’re looking at an increase in workload without the proportionate increase in resources,” Lawrenson said.

American citizens over 17 years old with experience or interest in the fishing industry can join the Coast Guard Auxiliary and help this effective program improve safety in America’s commercial fishing fleet.

Nationwide, the Auxiliary currently has 216 volunteers qualified to perform commercial fishing vessel exams, but many more are needed.

Al Morris, an Auxiliary member and former commercial fisherman in Kodiak, Alaska, recently underwent a week of intense vessel exam training in Yorktown, Va., working alongside active duty trainees.  He has seen firsthand the improved safety record of fishing boats that participate in the vessel examination program.

“I felt that I could help fishermen follow the rules,” Morris said.


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  1. Bob Miller says:

    Sector New York has also expressed an interest in having Auxiliarists assist in a similar role.

  2. Ed Pratt says:

    I am a UPV examiner. I would like to take the CFVE course.I am active in both SR1-25 and 070-13 .Any help would be appreciated.

  3. Steve Rosenberg says:

    I have commented before, MOST do not have the time or money from the Eest coast to go to the East coast for training. It’s time to have a training program out West. How about using the trained UPV examiners with some more training (most likely NOT a week) to become commercial fishing vessel examiners?

  4. Mike Raffel says:

    I would like to get more info .
    I am in flotilla 014/05/04.
    We would be happy to help out Sector N. Y..

  5. Ed Pratt says:

    Put in approximately 250 hours working with Mr. Jeff Lewis CIV CFVE in Sector Key West.Completed the sign offs ,did inspections, and completed my Board.My suggestion is to contact your Sector CIV CFVE OR your Prevention Dept.. and make it known that you can be a force multiplier and a asset to the Prevention Dept.
    If you really want to be a Qualified Examiner do not count on the school. Count on yourselves. Make it happen locally .
    Good Luck

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