The National Transportation Safety Board announced in a recent press release that the agency will hold a forum on fishing vessel safety beginning Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. The two-day forum will be chaired by NTSB Board Member Robert Sumwalt.

"In 2009, commercial fishing had the highest fatal work injury rate of all occupations in the United States," said Member Sumwalt. "Creating a safer environment and eliminating hazardous conditions on the high seas is one of the goals of the NTSB. The forum will provide a great opportunity to identify strategies to improve safety."

The NTSB has addressed safety in the commercial fishing industry through a safety study, issued in 1987, and in more than 150 safety recommendations issued since 1970 as a result of fishing vessel accidents. The NTSB's safety study addressed licensing requirements for masters and crewmembers, minimum standards for vessel stability, requirements for basic safety equipment, alcohol and drug use in commercial fishing vessel operations, and oversight of fishing vessel safety.

The forum is intended to identify safety issues in the commercial fishing industry — from both industry and government perspectives — and to identify strategies for preventing accidents and reducing the industry's high rate of injuries and fatalities. The panel topics will include:
  • Problem identification and progress made in fishing vessel safety;
  • Vessel-related issues impacting safety;
  • Fisheries management practices and impacts on safety;
  • Lifesaving equipment;
  • Training of crew members; and
  • Perspective of fishermen on safety.
Panelists participating in the forum will include representatives of the commercial fishing industry, safety equipment manufacturers, marine safety trainers, classification societies, marine surveyors, and federal agencies involved with the industry.

"I'm very much looking forward to hearing from the panelists," said Member Sumwalt. "This forum will not only be informative and engaging, but will also advance safety for those in the commercial fishing industry."

Organizations and/or individuals can submit input for consideration as part of the forum's archived materials. Submissions should directly address one or more of the forum's six topic areas (identified by the panel titles) and should be submitted electronically as an attached document not to exceed 10 pages to: fishingforum@ntsb.gov. The deadline for receipt is October 1, 2010. Input received will be entered into the Safety Board's public docket on this forum.

The public can view the forum in person or by live webcast on the NTSB's web site. An agenda and webcast details will be posted on the Board's website when available at http://www.ntsb.gov/events/forum_fishing_vessel_safety/forum_fishingvessel_safety.htm.

The forum will be held at the NTSB's Board Room and Conference Center, located at 429 L'Enfant Plaza, S.W., Washington, D.C.