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GAO Forum on Classification Standards for Commercial Fishing Vessels

Are you considering the construction of a new commercial fishing boat? Have you built a boat since the classification standards requirement took effect? If so, the GAO wants to hear from you.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has announced a forum on the effects of vessel classification standards on the commercial fishing industry. The forum will be held February 15 in Seattle.

Below is an email message from Senior Analyst, Erin Stockdale, explaining what it’s all about. Here are links to the documents she attached to the message. Public Forum on Fishing Vessel Classification Standards

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing you today to inform you about an excellent opportunity to have your voice heard regarding recent changes to classification standards for commercial fishing vessels.

Specifically, these changes began in 2010 and 2012 when U.S. law expanded, requiring that catcher vessels and fish tender vessels built after July 1, 2013 and over 50 feet in length to be built and maintained to classification standards, a requirement that previously only applied to fish processing vehicles. The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015 further amended these requirements so that new catcher and fish tender vessels between 50 and 79 feet in length do not necessarily need to be classed. However, ships of this size must still be designed and constructed to standards equivalent to classing with the oversight of naval architects and marine surveyors.

In light of these changes, congress has asked us, at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), to conduct a review analyzing the impact of these legislation changes on the commercial fishing industry. Over the past few months, we have met with a number of people active in the industry from across the U.S., including trade organizations, vessel owner/ operators, ship builders, naval architects, as well as marine insurers, academics and safety experts. We have also held two other forums with trade organization representatives, owner/ operators, and shipbuilders in California and New Orleans, LA.

As such, with this email we would like to invite vessel owner/ operators and trade organization representatives working in the North Pacific commercial fishing industry to spread the word and attend our third and final forum to be held in Seattle, Washington on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 2 PM. The event will be held at GAO’s Seattle field office, which is located at 701 Fifth Avenue, Seattle, Washington. Additional details about our ongoing review and the forum can be found in the attached document. Moreover, a questionnaire that we have asked vessel owner/ operators to complete is attached. Any information that you are willing to share in the completion of this questionnaire is much appreciated.

Please RSVP to Erin at or LeAnna at by no later than Friday, February 10, 2017, so we can ensure a smooth arrival process for all our attendees and start our meeting in a timely fashion. Completed questionnaires can also be emailed to either Erin or LeAnna.

We hope to see you there!


Erin L. Stockdale, Sr. Analyst

Acquisition and Sourcing Management

U.S. Government Accountability Office

Dayton Field Office

2196 D Street, Area B, Building 39

Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio 45433

(614) 804- 7562

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