November 21, 2017

Fish Taco Chronicles article

Fishing with Security (excerpt)

If you haven’t yet fished out of the Big 3 landings in San Diego this year, you’re in for a surprise when you arrive. Get ready to enter a gated community.

Due to stricter Homeland Security (DHS) requirements, the landings have installed security gates and surveillance cameras. Most of the security improvements are attributed to a Coast Guard order and the Maritime Transportation Safety Act of 2002, which requires port facilities around the country to develop and implement security plans. Many overnight and all long-range SOLAS-certified boats are affected by the new regulations.

So what will this mean for you if you fish on a long-range boat this year? Bill and Roxanne Swift say it made trip preparations easier for them. Boats now give anglers a number when they place a deposit. The number serves as the boarding order when it’s time to load. “You don’t have to get to the docks so early to get a good spot. And for someone that’s short, like I am, it’s a safety issue,” said Roxanne. “Now I don’t have to fight the big guys to place my gear where it’s convenient. The crew did it for me.”

But there’s more to it than just gates and cameras. Passengers can’t stay on the upper deck of the boat while the boat is leaving the harbor. You can be turned away at the gates if you refuse to submit to screenings or inspection. You must show ID to get a boarding pass from the landing. A security officer (usually crew members or office personnel) must let people through the security gates after checking for boarding passes.

And what about crew – how does this affect them? The gate key cards are expensive, so many boats purchased a limited number.  Most crew have to be let in – and out – every time they go to the landing office and back. One deckhand thought the gates were a great idea … for the off-season. Crew opinions range from viewing the gates as a necessary evil to a pain in the neck.

Some of the boat owners admit that they like the boats being more secure at night. They don’t have to worry about transients sleeping on the boat or someone vandalizing the property. But there are still other, unsecured areas nearby that terrorists could gain access to. …

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