The U.S. Coast Guard Sector Columbia River is clamping down on “paper captains” in the waters of Washington and Oregon thanks to Lt. Cmdr. Colin Fogarty, enforcement chief for the sector in Warrenton, Oregon. As an educated and licensed attorney, Fogarty, and his colleagues are highly skilled at proving Jones Act violations and enforcing the law.
Under the Jones Act section 12131 of title 46 of the United States Code, U.S. flagged vessels are required to be under the command of a U.S. citizen. In an effort to save money, some vessel owners hire foreign nationals to command U.S. flagged commercial fishing vessels, offering lower pay. A U.S. citizen, often a subordinate or a deckhand, is listed on paper as the captain. These “paper captains” are not qualified or properly trained to command a vessel. Not only are they breaking the law, but they are putting crewmembers at risk. Lack of proper training and human error cause a majority of maritime accidents.
“The employment of a foreign national as captain aboard a U.S.-flagged commercial fishing vessel is illegal,” said Lt. Cmdr. Colin Fogarty, the enforcement chief at Coast Guard Sector Columbia River in Warrenton, Oregon. “The practice of utilizing paper captains subverts U.S. laws and regulations designed to protect hard-working American fishermen and mariners.”