Commercial Fishing Vessel Dockside Examinations – Here is an online checklist of requirements  

After many deaths, capsizings, and sinkings of commercial fishing vessels in the 1980’s, representatives of fishing vessel owners, the Coast Guard, and the Congress worked together to develop safety standards for commercial fishing vessels.  Most of these standards were focused on helping the crew on fishing vessels survive the disaster – such as by requiring Emergency Position Indicating Beacons (EPIRBs) and immersion suits. This culminated in the enactment of the Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Act of 1988.

The Coast Guard did not believe that they had the legal authority to enforce these requirements dockside.  They believed that they could only conduct at-sea boardings to determine compliance with the requirements.  If a vessel was not in compliance – they could (and often times did) order the vessel back to port until it was in compliance. To help the vessel owner avoid having his fishing vessel sent back to port, the Coast Guard developed a voluntary dockside examination program to determine compliance with the legal requirements.  If the vessel passed the exam it was issued a decal evidencing compliance.

The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 provided the Coast Guard with the legal authority to make dockside examinations mandatory for all fishing vessels. On October 15, 2015 the Coast Guard will begin enforcing the mandatory dockside examinations.

To aid the owner in knowing what the requirements are for a particular type of commercial fishing vessel the Coast Guard has developed an online tool that allows the owner to input the specifications of their vessel – and the software will generate a list of the applicable requirements.

The Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Checklist Generator is at this link.

Don’t lose days of fishing by being sent back to the dock – beat the rush – and get your exam NOW!


  • Martin Teachout

    Your online check list generator only allows you to enter one location that the vessel operates in what if your vessel operates in multiple locations. i.e. Operate in Alaska, West Coast down to California and out to and past the Hawiian Islands????


  • Martin – Thanks for your question. Probably the most significant question in this generator is whether the vessel will be operating beyond 3 miles. If so, it will have to comply with more requirements. I assume this vessel will be operating beyond 3 miles in at least one of these areas. The other criteria to follow is cold water. Because the vessel will be operating in Alaska – it may have more equipment than in Hawaii (i.e. survival craft that will keep you out of the water). So if you enter the data for operating the vessel the farthest out to sea that it will operate – and in the coldest water area – you will probably have the most complete list of requirements. I would suggest checking with your local Coast Guard sector office to make sure you have the necessary equipment.


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