to perform safely around machinery and gear. In addition to building safety awareness about the dangers of fatigue, it might be possible to change manning practices to provide checks and balances, such as maintaining two crewmen on wheel watch on rigorous trips (R. Jacobson, personal communication, 1990).

Alternative 22: Establish Vessel Manning and Watchkeeping Criteria

Minimum manning standards and watchkeeping requirements for navigation are published in federal law and regulations for most uninspected commercial vessels, including uninspected fishing vessels over 200 gross tons (46 U.S.C.A. Chapter 81). This alternative expands existing requirements to include uninspected fishing vessels of all sizes. Variations on this theme are being considered by the Coast Guard as part of the congressional mandate to submit a licensing plan to Congress for documented vessels. The evidence suggests that safety problems that might lead to manning and watchkeeping requirements for documented fishing vessels apply equally to state-numbered vessels, with flexibility for degree of emphasis as discussed in alternative 21.


Human failure in some form contributes to most fishing vessel casualties, fatalities, and injuries. If not the direct cause, human factors are an element in accidents and complicate implementation of safety improvement alternatives. Human factors frequently associated with marine casualties are inexperience, inattention, fatigue, judgmental errors, and navigational errors. Safety can be addressed through voluntary or mandatory programs or systems designed around the human element. Safety-improvement options (continued from preceding chapters) include these alternatives:

  1. establish risk communication/safety awareness programs,

  2. publish and distribute safety publications,

  3. require emergency preparedness measures,

  4. develop and promulgate standard operating procedures,

  5. develop competency standards,

  6. promote education and training,

  7. require education and training with certification,

  8. require licensing, and

  9. establish vessel manning and watchkeeping criteria.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement