Attention vessel Owners and Operators,
With the strong market price for tuna and limited opportunities in the US salmon, crab and shrimp fisheries this summer, we expect to see a significant increase in both US and Canadian vessels on the tuna grounds. We also expect that a number of these vessels may be operated by skippers who are new or relatively new to the fishery, and who may not be fully aware of the history of cooperation between the two nations which has lead to common practices and courtesies of the tuna fleet.
Attached are the Rules of Etiquette as developed by the BCTFA in 2012. The Rules of Etiquette are meant to serve as a guide to both Canadian and American fishermen. If you have a hired skipper running your boat this summer, please ensure he receives a copy of this letter.
We would like to remind our members and fishers that these common practices and courtesies are meant set a standard of safe and respectful conduct but in no way supersede the requirements of the Collision Regs for safe navigation. In the interest of safety and of good relations between our fleets, we encourage you to give all other vessels lots of sea room when fishing, and to do your best to avoid close-quarters situations.
Should any vessel master experience in a situation deemed to be unsafe, he should document the relevant information in his tuna logbook, and, if the situation warrants it, contact the Coast Guard and file a report. It is in everyone¹s interest to fish and navigate safely. As is noted in the Rules of Etiquette, "a collision at sea can ruin your entire day." Be safe. Good luck, and happy hunting.
ALBACORE FLEET ETIQUETTE
“RULES OF THE ROAD
B.C. Tuna Fishermen’s Association
There have been a number of incidents reported down through the years related to aggressive fishing and poor seamanship. These incidents may have unintended consequences. Please consider using these common senses rules. If we all “play” by the same rules, our job will be a lot easier and less stressful.
1. A circling boat is considered sacred-avoid it like the plague. NEVER cross through the area inside his circle-don’t even get close. A good rule of thumb is, if conditions allow, leave room enough for him to “reverse” his circle
2. Some boats prefer not to circle, especially in bad weather. If you see a boat making noticeable tacks between A and B, regard it as his spot. Don’t move in, pull a circle or cut across his tack and force him off his fish.
3. Don’t fish close to other boats. In general, stay one mile away. If you know the other boat, the courteous thing to do is call him on the VHF and ask to come in closer. This will save you getting cussed out on channel 72! If you’re called on the VHF, reply. If you call someone, state your boat name so that whom you are calling knows who to reply back to. We all make mistakes, apologize, and he will get over it a lot sooner.
4. Remember that larger vessels are not as maneuverable as smaller ones. Their circles will be larger and they require more room to turn.
5. In poor visibility and/or bad sea conditions, the safe working distance between vessels is
ONE MILE MINIMUM. Remember a collision at sea can ruin your entire day, maybe your
6. Leave LOTS of room when drifting at night. Boats drift at different speeds. Two miles all around is generally considered minimum, but safe distances increase with wind, swell height and current.
7. Boats with any type sea anchor drift slower than other boats. If you are using one, make sure you are up-wind of all other boats, never down-wind of the fleet. Failure to do so invites disaster. Vessels with steady sails drift faster so they should be down-wind of all vessels
8. Channel 72 is generally considered a safety channel at night to monitor emergencies, drifting problems, freighter traffic, etc. If you are traveling at night, make arrangements ahead of time with traveling partners to switch to another channel after dark. Other people are trying to sleep but want to monitor Channel 72 (and 16) without listening to someone’s dinner menu or who won the baseball game.
9. When a “Jig” boat encounters a “Bait” boat and observes “men in the rack” the
courteous distance away should be a mile. It should also be noted that if you observe a bait boat making erratic course changes, it’s probably because the skipper is chasing a school using his sonar. Cut him some slack to pursue his fish.
10. When in doubt as to what to do, which way to turn, etc., call the other guy and inform him of your intentions. This alleviates frustration and a possible confrontation. At the end of the day, INTERNATIONAL COLLISION REGULATIONS takes precedence over “Fishing Etiquette”.
“Watch out for the other guy”
“ Communication is the answer to confrontation”