Capsized fishing vessel Melissa Chris, Peril Strait, near Sitka, Alaska, August 18, 1988. (PAC Ed Moreth, U.S. Coast Guard)

that 99 percent of the U.S. fishing industry fleet subject to only very limited federal, industry, or self-imposed requirements governing design, construction, maintenance, or installed equipment. The nature and causes of vessel-related safety problems are discussed, along with safety-improvement alternatives. The analysis includes uninspected fishing industry vessels with combined catching and processing capabilities, but it also applies to fish tender vessels and non-industrial components of processing vessels. Vessels that transport only fish as general cargo were beyond the study's scope.


A fishing vessel is a complex system in terms of function as well as engineering and technology. It is outfitted with propulsion and steering machinery; fishing gear; and deck, navigation, and communications equipment. Outfitting can range from austere—as in the case of small traditional boats like inshore lobster boats that still rely heavily on manual labor—to elaborate vessels with highly engineered, computer-controlled gear-handling systems and space-age

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