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DHS/USCG RIN: 1625-AA77 Publication ID: Fall 2007 
Title: Commercial Fishing Industry Vessels (USCG-2003-16158) 
Abstract: This rulemaking would amend commercial fishing industry vessel requirements to enhance maritime safety. The proposed changes would affect vessel stability and watertight integrity, carriage of immersion suits, training, compliance documentation, and safety equipment. Market or Regulatory Failure Analysis: Currently, the commercial fishing industry remains one of the most hazardous occupations in the United States. Many commercial fishing vessels do not meet suggested stability requirements or maintain adequate safety training and equipment. Without regulatory action, not all individual owners of commercial fishing vessels will voluntarily invest in improved safety due to the short run uncertainty of individual benefits. 
Agency: Department of Homeland Security(DHS)  Priority: Economically Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Proposed Rule Stage 
Major: Undetermined  Unfunded Mandates: No 
EO 13771 Designation: uncollected 
CFR Citation: 46 CFR 28   
Legal Authority: 46 USC 4502(a) to 4502(d)    46 USC 4505, 4506    46 USC 6104    46 USC 10603    DHS Delegation No. 0170.1(92)   
Legal Deadline:  None

Statement of Need: Commercial fishing remains one of the most dangerous industries in America. The Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Safety Act of 1988 ("the Act," codified in 46 U.S.C. chapter 45) gives the Coast Guard regulatory authority to improve the safety of vessels operating in that industry. Although significant reductions in industry deaths were recorded after the Coast Guard issued its initial rules under the Act in 1991, we believe more deaths and serious injury can be avoided through compliance with new regulations in the following areas: vessel stability and watertight integrity, vessel maintenance and safety equipment including crew immersion suits, crew training and drills, and improved documentation of regulatory compliance.

Summary of the Legal Basis: The authority for the Coast Guard to prescribe, change, revise or amend these regulations is provided under 46 U.S.C. 4502, 4505, 4506, 6104, 10603; Department of Homeland Security Delegation 0170.1.

Alternatives: The Coast Guard considered the following alternatives and rejected them for the reasons indicated: Maintaining the regulatory status quo -- rejected because we believe additional regulations will have a favorable impact in reducing industry deaths; Requiring the licensing of commercial fishermen and mandating the inspection of all industry vessels -- rejected because of the probable expense such measures would entail; Requiring vessel operators and crew members to carry certificates issued upon completion of training -- rejected because of questionable legal authority, probable high cost, and probable adverse impact on industry labor supply; and Relying on voluntary compliance with Coast Guard guidance – rejected because too few vessels voluntarily comply with existing Coast Guard guidance.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits: The proposed rule is economically significant with the preliminary first-year cost estimate of approximately $107.9 million or $112.1 million at three or seven percent discount rates, respectively. The preliminary annual costs of this rulemaking after the first year range between $25.6 million and $47.9 million, depending upon the year and the discount rate. These cost estimates may change through further development of the rulemaking and after consideration of public comments. The primary benefit of this rulemaking is improved safety of commercial fishing vessels.

Risks: Commercial fishing continues to rank at or near the top of the most hazardous occupations in the United States. It involves far more casualties than other maritime commercial activities regulated by the Coast Guard, resulting in a significant proportion of the agency’s Search and Rescue and marine casualty investigation activities. Commercial fishing industry casualties usually result from the complex interplay of many factors, and accident reconstruction to determine the exact cause of a casualty is usually impossible in the marine environment. Although it is therefore difficult or impossible to prove a causal connection between our previous issuance of regulations affecting this industry and the subsequent decrease in the number of industry deaths, we believe those regulations contributed materially to creating a culture of safety in which the prevention of casualties is more likely to occur. Because we know that a vessel’s stability, watertight integrity, and overall condition can be critical factors in preventing a casualty, and that safety equipment and the crew’s ability to use that equipment can be critical to surviving a casualty, we believe that additional regulations in those areas will strengthen the culture of safety and result in further safety gains.

Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  04/00/2008    
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Undetermined  Government Levels Affected: None 
Small Entities Affected: No  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Mike Rosecrans
Project Manager, CG-5433
Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Coast Guard
2100 Second Street SW.,
Washington, DC 20593
Phone:202 372-1245