Michigan charter captains can now access training videos online

Presentations on safe fish handling for the Catch & Cook program, health issues that impact Coast Guard license renewal, and Drug & Alcohol Program compliance are now available online through Michigan Sea Grant.

The Michigan Charter Boat Association (MCBA) held its annual meeting on October 20, 2012, in Lansing.  Those who attended heard presentations on a number of issues that affect captains, including the Michigan Catch & Cook program and U.S. Coast Guard relicensing. Two presentations were recorded and posted online by Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension, along with MCBA Drug & Alcohol Program that has been offered at past meetings and Sea Grant workshops. These training videos are now available at the Michigan’s Charter Boat Industry playlist on YouTube.

The Michigan Catch & Cook program is a partnership that promotes creative and safe preparation of charter-caught fish at local restaurants. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) developed a Guidance Document for the program, which lists the responsibilities of charter boat captains. These include knowledge of public health fish advisories, rapid chilling of fish to 41 degrees Fahrenheit, access to ice produced from potable water, packaging of fish with date and time of capture clearly labeled, and adherence to food safety standards by adequate cleaning, gutting, and scaling of fish. To ensure food safety compliance, MDARD recommends that captains complete a food handler’s class. Ron Kinnunen, of Michigan Sea Grant, developed a half-hour class on food handling specific to the Catch & Cook program. Captains who wish to participate in Catch & Cook are encouraged to view the food handling presentation online and share this information with restaurants that have concerns regarding food safety.

Charter captains applying for or renewing a license with the U.S. Coast Guard should be aware that health problems could slow down the renewal process. Deborah Mercer, Health Specialist with The U.S. Coast Guard, recommends beginning applications or renewals a year in advance for this reason. Merchant Mariner Credential Medical Evaluations are often delayed when captains make mistakes on CG-719K form. In her presentation at the MCBA meeting, Mercer listed the top ten mistakes to avoid and covered other aspects of the evaluation process, including common denial diagnoses.

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