To to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, the Center for Disease Control issued an emergency order requiring all persons to wear face masks when "traveling on conveyances into and within the United States". Although the definition of "conveyance" does not include fishing vessels, the Coast Guard's stance is that the CDC's intent was to include fishing vessels.
The Coast Guard has issued Marine Safety Information Bulletin (MSIB) 02-21, explaining that, "Under Title 42 of the United States Code section 268, the Coast Guard is charged with enforcing CDC quarantine orders. Owners, operators, and crew of vessels that fail to implement the mask wearing order above may be subject to civil or criminal penalties from the CDC. Furthermore, based on the scientific determination of the CDC, the Coast Guard finds that failure to wear a mask creates an undue safety risk by increasing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 between passengers, the crew of the vessel, and port operators. COVID-19 is known to cause severe illness and death which impacts the safe operations of ships and port facilities."
Scott Wilwert, lead Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Examiner for U.S.C.G. District 17, has advised us that while the Coast Guard has enforcement authority, they want to work with the commercial fishing industry to educate fishermen about the intent of the emergency order, with regard to reducing the spread of the virus. Click images to read and download the CDC's emergency order and the Coast Guard's MSIB 02-21. You can forward questions or concerns to email@example.com or contact your local Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Examiner.