The key is restricted in manueverability by their fishing gear. I don't know of any recreational fishing gear that would qualify as restricting a boat's manueverability. A large trawled net, or long-lines definitely do, but to use such gear in almost all the waters I can think of requires a commercial permit.
Down riggers, at least the recreational ones I'm familar with, do not affect the boat's ability to manuever. Either does having even a dozen lines on the bottom... since the amount of weight or mass of those lines is neglible compared to the power output of the engines on the boat. That can't be said for commercial fishing gear, such as long lines.
If you can point to recreational fishing gear that actually affects the manueverability of a large sport fishing boat, I'd be interested in seeing what you're talking about. If you can find the "precedents" saying that a recreational fishing boat has right of way due to restricted manueverability caused by the fishing gear deployed, please post them.
Originally Posted by halekai36
As far as I know the USCG makes no distinction between commercial and pleasure fishing. If you know where that is in the Col Regs please point it out to me. They just say "a vessel engaged in fishing" and not a "commercial vessel engaged in fishing". Here is their actual definition of a vessel engaged in fishing:
Quote from Col Regs:
"The term "vessel engaged in fishing" means any vessel fishing with nets, lines, trawls, or other fishing apparatus which restrict maneuverability, but does not include a vessel fishing with trolling lines or other fishing apparatus which do not restrict maneuverability."
So if a recreational boat is fishing with down riggers, or drifting & bottom fishing, with the motor idling, I'd say they still have the right of way regardless of the fact that they're recreational because down riggers or bottom lines certainly restrict maneuverability. They do make clear that trolling does not constitute "stand on" unless it would restrict the maneuverability of the vessel.
I know the regs were designed before en-masse Joe six pack bass fisherman were the rage however, there is maritime case precident to support recreational fisherman with maneuverability restrictions and they have won many cases as the stand on vessel. Again the wording is clear and makes NO distinction so take all reasonable precautions to avoid a collision including giving way to Joe Six Pack....
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