Sullivan, Cantwell, Murkowski Applaud Committee Passage of Alternate Safety Compliance Program Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, S. 3088, legislation to provide increased fishing industry consultation and to ease the deadline for compliance with the pending Coast Guard Alternate Safety Compliance Program, introduced by Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), passed unanimously out of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

The 2010 and 2012 Coast Guard Authorization bills imposed a number of new safety requirements on fishing vessels. One of these new provisions required the Coast Guard to develop a program by 2017—the Alternate Safety Compliance Program—that would apply to certain fishing vessels in 2020.

However, the fishing industry is concerned by the impending deadline and their ability to meet the requirements in time and in a cost effective manner. To help mitigate their concerns, S. 3088 would ease the burdensome compliance timelines, and encourage greater coordination between the Coast Guard and the commercial fishing industry. This legislative effort builds upon a recent letter to the Coast Guard led by Senators Cantwell and Sullivan, and Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX).

“I thank my colleagues for advancing this commonsense legislation that will provide Alaska’s hardworking commercial fishing industry an increased role in the development of these new requirements,” said Senator Sullivan. “Fishermen take safety more seriously than anyone else—they’re the ones working on these boats, often with their children and other family, and this bill will help foster a more collaborative process between the Coast Guard and fishing industry, ensuring the ultimate goal of encouraging safe and vibrant fishing communities throughout the country.”

“Working on the high seas will always carry with it certain risks, but fishermen have the right to a workplace where their safety is the top priority,” said Senator Cantwell. “Today’s bill ensures the Coast Guard collaborates with fishermen so that they can continue to operate in a safe and effective manner by making necessary improvements to the Coast Guard fishing vessel safety compliance program.”

“We can all agree that improving the safety for our fishing fleet is important, but any proposed changes need to work for everyone involved,” said Senator Murkowski.  “This bill is necessary to give the Coast Guard the time needed to analyze data and work with the fishing industry to develop targeted safety guidelines out on the water. It also provides the fishing industry with the tools needed to implement those safety measures efficiently.”