Alaska Fishing Industry Zero Tolerance Drug Policy

The U.S. Coast Guard and the fishing industry have a zero tolerance policy for illegal drug use.

If you are applying for work on an offshore fishing or processing vessel, you will most likely be asked during your interview if you use narcotics, and you may have to provide a urine sample. If your tests indicate that you use drugs (marijuana use can be traced for weeks), you won’t be hired; so either quit using them well before you intend to apply, or save yourself the embarrassment and don’t bother applying.

Drinking or doing drugs on the job is foolish and will get you fired or even land you in jail. If you’re working for a seafood processing plant, you’ll be working around sharp knives, heavy equipment, and large, heavy blocks of ice.

Being drunk, stoned, or even hung over on the job will compromise your safety, as well as that of other workers, and it won’t be tolerated. Offshore processor employees rarely even have the opportunity to use alcohol or narcotics. The Coast Guard strictly enforces a “zero tolerance” policy with respect to narcotics. Agency officials can board any ship in U.S. waters, and are authorized to seize a vessel if narcotics are found on board. For this reason, living conditions are tightly monitored, and many processors don’t even allow alcohol on board. None allow narcotics. In fact, if you’re caught with drugs on a processor, you’ll probably be fired on the spot and sent ashore.

If you’re working for an onshore processor, alcohol will be as common and frequently used as in any community of workers with little free time and lots of cash. After a 16-hour shift on the slime line, you’ll probably be tempted to go to a bar and have a few drinks with others on your shift. Do yourself a favor and either don’t drink or drink in moderation. If you arrive to work looking or smelling drunk, you’ll be fired. And even if you don’t get caught, you’ll probably wish you had been: gutting fish with a hangover isn’t much fun. As for marijuana and other drugs, it’s best to avoid them, too. Using drugs will almost certainly make you more prone to accidents. Some offshore processors have begun conducting random drug tests, and although we haven’t heard of drug-testing of onshore processor employees, that could happen, too.

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