Coast Guard News: Fishing The Deeps

Preventing A Collision At Sea, Part XVI




As we’ve delved deeper into the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLOREGs) as they pertain to lights and shapes, I have laid the groundwork for the next set of rules, considerably more “intense” in application. Why? Because they have to do primarily with commerce over the open seas where the lifeblood of the U.S. and the world economies still flow.

Despite our high-tech economy and the reliance on the airline industry for transport, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reports that 90 percent of the world’s goods are still transported by sea. This being the case, we better understand what we are signaling to each other with our lights and shapes . . .

What We Are Going Ro Focus On

In this column and the ones ahead, we will focus on the primary commercial applications of the rules:

Rule 26: Fishing Vessels (and I don’t mean you and your 26’ Grady)

Rule 27: Vessels Not Under Command — NUCs — and Those Restricted In Their Ability to Maneuver (RAMs)

Rule 28: Vessels Constrained by their Draft (and I don’t mean by buoy 26!)

Rule 29: Pilots — Who brings the leviathans into a crowded harbor?

Rule 30: Anchored and Aground

Rule 31: Seaplanes

What Does Rule 26 Say?

A lot — and a fishing vessel as it pertains to Rule 26 are vessels trawling or fishing by means of dragging through the water nets, dredges, lines, or “other apparatus used as a fishing appliance.” They don’t mean us, drifting with the wind and a Penn reel in our hand.

The lights on a commercial fishing vessel are just the same as any vessel as described in Rule 21. If she is underway, she shall exhibit side lights of red and green, a white masthead light, and white stern light. If at anchor, she shall exhibit lights associated with that condition (no running or side lights!) In addition to all those responsibilities, she is charged with one of two important additions: “Green over white, we be shrimping tonight” or “red over white, we be fishing tonight.” What does that mean?

We Be Shrimping Tonight

If the commercial vessel is pulling a dredge or nets astern, she will exhibit the green and white light configuration. Don’t get in behind her as she may be pulling lines for miles. If she is greater than 50 meters, her mast light must be above the green light so she’ll show “white over green over white.” As with all commercial fishing vessels, she must exhibit the “shape consisting of two cones with their apexes together in a vertical line one above the other.”

We Be Fishing Tonight

If the commercial vessel has fishing gear extended abeam, she will exhibit the red and white light configuration. Also, if the gear is extending more than 150 meters horizontally from the vessel, she shall show a white light and “cone apex upwards” in the direction of the gear. Like the “shrimper,” if she is greater than 50 meters, her mast light must be above the red light so she’ll show “white over red over white.” As with all commercial fishing vessels, she must exhibit the “shape consisting of two cones with their apexes together in a vertical line one above the other.”

Lots of lights, complex shapes = stay away, Bunky!

If interested in being part of U.S. Coast Guard Forces, email the author at JoinUSCGAux@aol.com.