South Pacific Tuna Reports Improved Safety
Friday, March 21, 2014
Photo: South Pacific Tuna Corporation

U.S. Distant Water Tuna Fleet Records Zero Fatalities in 2013

South Pacific Tuna Corporation pointed to the tuna industry’s 2013 record of zero fatalities in response to a recent report, implication of safety concerns and 2012 violations from foreign officers license certification, as cited in a recent press release from Coast Guard Sector Guam.

The company’s track record of overall operational safety and ongoing policy improvement work in cooperation with the United States Coast Guard in Washington, D.C., as well as the Fourteenth Guard District in Honolulu, is a reminder that the entire South Pacific tuna fleet continues to raise the global bar for safety best practices in purse seine vessel management.

“Over the past five years, our industry has worked alongside the Coast Guard to help carry out applicable and efficient policy reforms through information sharing and by ensuring access to the fleet,” said South Pacific Tuna Corporation partner J. Douglas Hines. “This transparency enables us to improve our safety protocol, and enables the Coast Guard to effectively regulate and monitor our vessels.“

South Pacific Tuna Corporation safety policies include:


  • Self-inflating work vests for all deck crew
  • First Aid and CPR training for all Captains
  • “Adrift at Sea” life saving events participation
  • Drill conductor training for all Captains
  • Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) training
  • Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) training

In the case of Guam in 2012, South Pacific Tuna Corporation was mostly cited for violations stemming from expired safety documentation created by a delay in its annual inspection scheduling. Despite the expired documents, the foreign officers on board were licensed and had been approved in accordance with regulation; the expired documentation was later reissued and the deficiency corrected. Although legislation was passed in 2012 that addressed these and other safety documentation issues, the official federal guidance was only issued in 2014 as Coast Guard headquarters staff worked with Industry to develop that guidance. Under today’s regulation and subsequent guidance, most of the 2012 citations against the company would not have been issued.

“South Pacific Tuna Corporation takes seriously the safety of our crew, which is why all of our foreign officers are fully certified and credentialed in accordance with Coast Guard policies under this program, our fisherman are abundantly trained, and every one of our vessels meet and exceed the 2014 U.S. Government regulations,” said Captain Bobby Virissimo, Vice President of Operations for South Pacific Tuna Corporation and member of the Coast Guard sponsored Commercial Fishing Safety Advisory Committee.

“It is a difficult task to operate efficiently, sustainably, and in cooperation with all parties on the high seas,” added Hines. “To be successful, we must continue working closely with members of the Coast Guard, as well as all government agencies that are charged with ensuring the safety, sustainability, commerce of the industry. The viability of the United States within the Pacific fisheries may only be maintained when these important partnerships prosper.”

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