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Guard Urges Fishing Boat Rules

April 5, 1999

BOSTON (AP) _ Responding to four accidents that killed 11 clam fishermen, the Coast Guard is recommending sweeping safety proposals, including licenses for skippers and mandatory boat inspections.

The December and January deaths of the East Coast clam fishermen signal ``the time is right″ to greatly increase safety precautions, Rear Admiral R.C. North wrote in an attachment to a task force report released Monday.

The report concludes most commercial fishing fatalities _ including the recent deaths _ are preventable.

Poor compliance with already inadequate safety standards _ along with low use of voluntary safety measures such as boat inspections _ often lead to dangerous conditions on the boats, the report said.

Operator licenses, crew competency certificates and mandatory inspections are among the task force’s recommendations. All would require congressional approval.

Congress has declined to pass the licensing requirements three times before. Some lawmakers have said the commercial fishing industry is already highly regulated.

``You can try to make it better,″ said William Adler, a lobsterman. ``But you can also make it such a nightmare that these fishermen just can’t operate.″

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