The Annual Conference was held in Traverse City at the Holiday Inn, October 15-17. Most everyone enjoyed it. Perhaps the highlight of the day program was a presentation by Dr. Howard Tanner detailing the creation of the salmon fishery in Michigan. Dr. Tanner is often referred to as the father of the salmon fishery. The afternoon field trip to the research vessel “T.S. State of Michigan” at the Maritime academy was very interesting.
Attendance was up from past years, but the officers and staff of the Association would certainly like to see more of our membership at our Annual Conferences. Next year’s conference will be October 21-23, most likely in Holland. Plan now to attend the Annual Conference in 2011.
On October first, the USCG put new, more stringent regulations in effect for consortium drug programs, which caused the MCBA Drug program to be out of compliance. The MCBA and many other drug programs across the country were notified that our programs had to be revised to meet the new requirements and that effective immediately our program would not be recognized until a revised program was accepted. Also, we were required to notify all our drug program members who were actively chartering that it was necessary for them to become part of a currently approved program until such time as our program could be re-approved. The Coast Guard required the MCBA send a letter to all of our members to notify them of these requirements.
Because this is the off-season for most MCBA members, only those who are actively chartering in navigable water need to temporarily enroll in a different approved plan temporarily until we get our revised program accepted. The MCBA will reimburse those few MCBA member Captains who do need to enroll in a different plan during this time for the expenses involved in joining another plan. If you are one of those persons, please note the list of already approved plans that were listed at the bottom of that letter. If you happen to be among those who have taken a random drug test within the past six months, we will help you get a letter that will allow you to enroll without a pre-enrollment drug test. If you have not taken a test during the past six months, you will most likely have to take a pre-enrollment drug test to join the approved plan. Again, the MCBA will reimburse you for your expenses if you maintain your MCBA drug plan membership through out this period.
The MCBA is actively working with the USCG and with the creators of an approved revised drug program to revise our own program to meet the new requirements. We are on track to have our revised drug program approved within the next several weeks, so MCBA members who will be inactive until spring launch time do not have to take any action. As soon as the USCG approves our revised drug program all members will be notified, and information regarding the revised rules and procedures will be provided.
The MCBA is vigorously and actively working to handle this unexpected situation and fully expect to have it completely settled soon. So, in the meanwhile, please just renew your membership as usual, and watch for an announcement when all the issues are resolved. If you have any questions about your own particular situation, please feel free to contact me, or Executive Secretary Dubsky at MCBA Central, and we will answer your questions