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DNV GL introduces rules for US fishing vessels to increase safety

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The fishing vessel industry fatality rate is 30 times higher than the average of all US industries. To address this, US legislation requires that all new fishing vessels bigger than 50 feet must be built to classification rules. DNV GL is the only classification society to develop rules specifically for the US domestic fishing fleet, addressing how fishing vessels are designed, built and maintained for safety.
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“The United States is the fifth largest fishing nation in the world, with approximately 110,000 commercial vessels. This means that there are more than a hundred thousand US fishermen who have their daily work in fishing vessels that often operate in harsh conditions and rough weather. All new vessels built to DNV GL’s class rules will be safer,” says Joar Bengaard who leads DNV GL’s initiative for US fishing vessels from the US HQ in Houston, Texas.

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DNV GL is the only classification society to develop rules specifically for the US domestic fishing fleet, addressing how fishing vessels are designed, built and maintained for safety.

Managing risks effectively

“We have studied the main risks for fishing vessels. They include lack of watertight subdivision and integrity, shifting loads, heavy nets, flooding, fires, icing, equipment failure and structural modifications. These are all addressed in our rules. We also know that time is money for a fishing vessel, so a clear priority has been to make sure the classification process is as effective, yet as unobtrusive as possible,” says Joar Bengaard.

DNV GL is the world’s biggest classification society, and 13.000 vessels (including 1000 fishing vessels) worldwide are designed, built and maintained according to its specifications, or class rules. Regular classification rules and processes are designed for much bigger and more complex ships, such as tankers and containerships. DNV GL therefore decided to develop rules specific for US fishing vessels.

Simplifying and optimizing the rules for smaller fishing vessels has been done in dialogue with the industry, looking at the entire process: Design reviews, quality approvals of equipment, surveys at yards and onboard the vessels, with an eye on achieving safety goals for the fishing vessel and its crew, as well as maintaining efficient operations.

“When the US Congress mandated this requirement in 2010, a fishing vessel sank every third day. As part of the offshore and maritime cluster here in the US, we have since then worked with the US Coast Guard and the fishing vessel industry to effectively address the most important risks, while translating the industry’s experiences and concerns into effective rules that balance safety and cost considerations. We now look forward to further collaborate with an industry that is keen to improve its safety performance,” says Paal Johansen, DNV GL’s Regional Director, Americas.

The next step for DNV GL is to start an even broader dialogue with all the designers, yards, equipment manufacturers and fishing vessel operators to inform about the rules and listen to the concerns and questions they will have to the new requirements.

About DNV GL


Driven by our purpose of safeguarding life, property and the environment, DNV GL enables organizations to advance the safety and sustainability of their business. Operating in more than 100 countries, our 16,000 professionals are dedicated to helping our customers in the maritime, oil & gas, energy and other industries to make the world safer, smarter and greener.

In the maritime industry 
DNV GL is the world’s leading classification society and a recognized advisor for the maritime industry. We enhance safety, quality, energy efficiency and environmental performance of the global shipping industry – across all vessel types and offshore structures. We invest heavily in research and development to find solutions, together with the industry, addressing strategic, operational or regulatory challenges.