Published on:

NMFS Passes New Regulations for Safer Boarding Ladders

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recently passed new regulations requiring operators to provide a USCG-approved pilot ladder on domestic fishing vessels with a freeboard of greater than four feet. This pilot ladder will be a safe and enforceable means for authorized personnel to board larger fishing vessels. This is required for vessel operators to carry out their duties under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the Atlantic Tunas convention Act. This law resulted from the NMFS’ assessment that the prior safety standards for the boarding ladders “proved to be inadequate.”
A “pilot ladder,” also referred to as a “Jacob’s ladder,” is a flexible ladder with rigid steps with non-skid coating, flexible rope between rungs to reduce crushing injuries, anti-twist rungs, and rounded edges to reduce damage to the vessel and for safety. This new rule also establishes the vessel operator as the individual responsible for providing a pilot ladder when conditions exist that require such equipment. This will avoid situations where boarding personnel were required to provide their own ladder or abort the boarding, situations that occurred before this rule was enacted.
For questions regarding this new rule, an injury sustained while boarding a vessel or while working aboard a vessel, please contact the law office of Beard, Stacey, Trueb and Jacobsen at 206.282.3100 or visit our website at The lawyers of Beard, Stacey, Trueb and Jacobsen specialize in personal injury cases sustained while working on a vessel.

Contact Information