Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Life of a Boarding Officer

So far this patrol, I have done or have attempted to do eight boarding’s met by bad weather, and on two occasions I decided that the seas and swells combined with a sketchy boarding ladder were too dangerous to overcome. My most memorable boarding this patrol was also my first. Getting to the fishing boat was not very difficult, the seas and swells were welcoming and the cutter had closed to a comfortable distance. Once we were on board, I made my way to the bridge, followed closely by my fellow boarding officer, ME1 Kastrati, and my two boarding team members: ET1 Springsteen and ME3 Delosreyes. After I introduced myself, I had my boarding team members go below the decks and check to be sure the boat was safe for us to be on. After verifying there were no safety issues, we began our standard fishing vessel boarding. The boarding team members went about checking the vessel's safety equipment while ME1 and I began working on the administrative portion of the checklist. Between ME1 and I, we went through almost ten months of logbooks, examined permits and documentation, and questioned the captain. As I looked through the logbooks, I noticed that most of the fishing trips were completed without observers. Observers are contractors that are sanctioned by NOAA who ensure that fishing vessels are targeting the correct species of fish and that the vessels are operating safely. The vessel we were on was required to have 30% of their time monitored by an observer. When I did the math I figured out that this particular vessel had only 20% coverage. About the time that we figured that out, our team members reported that they had found expired distress signals and expired water-activated releases on the emergency beacons. With all of these three violations, I requested to the cutter to terminate the vessel's voyage. When a voyage is terminated, a vessel loses out on all of the money that could be made until the violations are corrected. The cutter radioed me back and informed me that District 17 declined to terminate and that I was to issue a ticket for the three violations. I issued the ticket (possibly a $10,000 fine) and left the boat. Overall, we had been on board for about 2 hours and had just given the most violations in one boarding in as long as I have been on the SHERMAN. Our first boarding brought our team together and proved our commitment to enforcing federal fishing laws on our seas.

-ENS Patrick Sullivan

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your story! Would like to hear more. Glad to discover you all are doing the blog again. ~ Cottons Ohana