Campus: Cal Poly, Pomona -- April 24, 2000

New Marine Technology Could Save Lives Of California Fisherman

Under the supervision of Cal Poly Pomona's resident naval architect Tom Banwell, engineering faculty and students have developed a new software package and instrumentation system that will permit U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Officers to make reliable on-board stability checks. This new technology has the potential to save hundreds of lives of California fishermen in the coming decade.

In 1998 Cal Poly Pomona was contracted by the U.S. Coast Guard to study the stability of small, trap-fishing vessels - in particular to review the overloading of these small vessels and the effect on the boats' stability. The Coast Guard had already established standards for the appropriate loading of larger fishing boats, but not for the smaller ones typically used in the California trap-fishing industry.

Approximately 5,000 vessels averaging 20 to 40 feet in length operate out of California harbors each year for the harvesting of lobster, crab and sea urchins. It is speculated that, due to economic pressures, many fishermen overload their boats, a practice that increases the potential for vessel sinkings.

Banwell's research will be tested this weekend when the T/S Golden Bear, the training ship of the California Maritime Academy, sails from the Bay Area to Long Beach. The Golden Bear will dock in Long Beach around noon on Monday, April 24.

For more information, contact Sam Kelly, coordinator of Cal Poly Pomona's ocean engineering program, at (909) 869-2587.

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