When it comes to marine casualty reporting, operators should remember that compliance is a more economical business decision than defending an enforcement action.

"Think before the phone rings how are you prepared for a marine casualty," Sean Pribyl, an attorney with Blank Rome, Washington, D.C., told a session of the International WorkBoat Show Wednesday. Consider everything from prevention and crew training to cleanup costs and possible criminal penalties.

"Develop your response plan beforehand," he said, and be sure employees have clear guidelines on what they can post on Facebook and Twitter about an incident. "The government will use that."

And the Coast Guard may not be the only government agency involved, Pribyl said, citing others like OSHA, the EPA, the Department of Justice, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which "is taking a much more active role in these incidents." Furthermore, "there's a real focus on falsified records."

Operators should get a copy of the Coast Guard's recently updated Navigation and Inspection Circular 01-15, that covers marine casualty reporting including form 2692, which has caused more than a little confusion over the years.

The new guideline is really too new to assess how much of a difference it's made for operators, said Capt. Alan Bernstein, owner of BB Riverboats, Cincinnati. But it has cleared up several important issues such as touch-and-go if there's no damage.

He suggests mariners be careful what they put on the 2692. "You put down facts with as little editorializing as you can," said Bernstein, who also is a columnist for WorkBoat.

One issue that needs to be resolved, he said, is the current $25,000 damage threshold that triggers a 2692. "It's about $25,000 just to drydock the boat even if it wasn't a major repair. I'd like to see $200,000 as a threshold."

Dale DuPont has been a correspondent for WorkBoat since 1998. She has worked at daily and weekly newspapers in Texas, Maryland, and most recently as a business writer and editor at The Miami Herald, covering the cruise, marine and other industries. She and her husband once owned a weekly newspaper in Cooperstown, N.Y., across the alley from the Baseball Hall of Fame. A South Florida resident, she enjoys sailing on Biscayne Bay, except in hurricane season.