Mask wearing on commercial fishing boats no longer required

A fishing vessel near Cordova Harbor. (May 16, 2021) Photo by Zachary Snowdon Smith/The Cordova Times

Take it off. Take it all off.

Mask wearing on board commercial fishing vessels and in outdoor areas of maritime transportation conveyances and hubs is no longer required.

The formal announcement came in a U.S. Coast Guard marine safety information bulletin stating that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevnetion is no longer requiring masking as a novel coronavirus safety measure on board commercial fishing and other maritime vessels, although operators of transportation hubs must require all those entering or while indoors on the premises of a transportation hub to still mask up.

The prospect of being required to mask up aboard commercial fishing vessels in Alaska initially drew extensive comment from commercial harvesters in Alaska, who noted it was impractical at best, particularly in inclement weather, with high winds and rain coming down. Masking in situations where it would affect safety was an initial exemption, such as situations where a mask would keep those on board from relaying emergency precautions or the need to rescue or provide medical aid to others on the vessel.

The updated guidelines do not, however, supersede any federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, rules and regulations still requiring masks, the Coast Guard noted. Masters and crew remain responsible for ensuring the vessel remains in compliance with applicable requirements.

State, local, tribal and territorial laws or rules imposing public health measures that are more protective of public health are an acceptable equivalency for the new federal requirements.

Questions regarding this notice can be directed to the Coast Guard Office of Commercial Vessels Compliance at wearamask@uscg.mil.