Friday, January 22, 2021

USCG Tells Mariners: Don’t Disable your AIS

U.S. Coast Guard officials are telling mariners and commercial fishermen to keep their vessel’s Automated Identification System on or face heavy penalties for non-compliance.

The notice comes as USCG has been witnessing a rise in fishing vesseling turning off their AIS to hide their fishing spots from competitors, the agency said.

"AIS is a vital tool in a host of Coast Guard missions including Search and Rescue and Port Security," said Lt. Collin Gruin, boarding team supervisor at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River. "It's not only illegal to turn it off but also incredibly dangerous." AIS is a globally adopted maritime navigation safety communications system used to keep mariners safe.

The regulation (33 CFR 164.46) mandates that commercial vessels 65 feet and larger or more within 12-nautical miles of shore must maintain AIS in working condition “at all times while the vessel is underway or at anchor, and, if moored, at least 15 minutes prior to getting underway.”

Mariners not following the regulation could face up to $35,486 per violation.

"Crabbers may think that they are protecting their businesses, but they are actually making search and rescue efforts more difficult if an emergency happens at sea," said Gruin.