Boat on the sea
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AlaskaSeafood-300x157On Tuesday February 14th, 2024, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will make a significant purchase of Alaska salmon and pollock in support of food and nutrition initiatives.

The ASMI stated that the purchase of seafood aims to support people experiencing food insecurity as well as school lunch programs. These purchases are being made possible through Section 32 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1935. This program assists U.S. agricultural food markets by purchasing commodities to relieve market surpluses, which in turn stabilizes agricultural income and prices.

“USDA’s Section 32 purchase announcement is great news for Alaska—almost $100 million of Alaskan seafood for people experiencing food insecurity. This purchase won’t just bolster Alaska’s seafood industry and support our coastal communities, but will help bring the highest-quality and healthiest seafood products in the world to families in need. I am grateful for the USDA’s investment in our fishermen and the health of Americans,” said Sen. Murkowski.

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Hotspur-300x242The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has completed an inquiry into the 2022 sinking of the F/V HOTSPUR near Prince of Wales Island. The report concludes that an unnoticed leak in an unoccupied area likely caused the vessel to lose stability, capsize, and sink near Nunez Rocks. Bilge alarms failed to sound or alert crew members that there was flooding below deck, which led to the capsizing of the 53-foot purse seiner.

On August 2, 2022, at about 7:35 PM, the captain and senior deckhand saw that the F/V HOTSPUR was listing to the port side while crossing the Clarence Strait. The captain went below to inspect the bilges and the engine room. He reported that everything appeared normal. To correct the listing of the vessel, the captain initiated a fuel transfer from a port-side tank to a starboard day tank. Despite his efforts, the listing persisted, and the senior deckhand noticed water spilling onto the rear deck from the port quarter.

The captain directed the senior deckhand to notify the other crewmembers to ready the life raft for abandoning ship. The captain transmitted a distress announcement via VHF radio. Nearby F/V LADY KODIAK and THE CODFATHER II heeded the call and altered their course to provide assistance.

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Fire-300x224On Wednesday, February 7th, 2024, a fire broke out at the Peter Pan Seafood facility in Sand Point, Alaska.

According to Edith Mejia, who serves as both the office manager and dispatcher for the police department, the fire likely began sometime between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m.

According to a press release issued by Peter Pan Seafood, both the warehouse and the nearby stockroom were affected by the fire. The company reported that there were no known injuries.

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Larsen_Bay_Alaska-300x178On Wednesday, January 31st, 2024, OBI Seafoods verified that the Larsen Bay facility on Kodiak Island will remain closed for the 2024 salmon season. John Hanrahan, the CEO of OBI Seafoods, stated that operations will cease at the Larsen Bay plant due to the “poor pink salmon forecast” from Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) as well as challenging market conditions for salmon products.

In November 2023, John Hanrahan was promoted to CEO from his previous position as Chief Operating Officer overseeing sales and marketing. He succeeded Mark Palmer after his retirement.

OBI Seafoods, based in Seattle, Washington, was established in 2020 following the merger of Ocean Beauty Seafoods and Icicle Seafoods. This strategic merger created an entity with a more competitive edge against competitors Trident Seafoods and Silver Bay Seafoods. OBI Seafoods has since become a prominent participant in Alaska’s salmon fishery.

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Ilwaco_Fire-300x225On Monday, January 22nd, 2023, at about 11 AM, calls flooded 911 dispatchers with reports of a blaze at the Ilwaco Landing Cannery. The Ilwaco Fire Department, headed by Fire Chief Jeff Archer, promptly responded to the distress calls. The fire originated on the Ilwaco Landing wharf, situated over Baker Bay waters near the mouth of the Columbia River.

The blaze engulfed nearly all structures on the Ilwaco Landing wharf, including the cannery building, crab pots, vehicles parked on the dock, and the dock itself. The fire resulted in a complete and total loss.

The 2024 Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishing Season begins this week on February 1st, which means the crabbing fleet was busy staging for their season. Approximately 8,500 commercial crab pots, equipped with ropes and licenses, were assembled on the dock in anticipation.

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MH-Jayhawk-300x150U.S. Coast Guard members, along with the crew of the good Samaritan vessel KYLIA, successfully rescued four individuals from a fishing boat that capsized about 2 miles northeast of Chiniak Island, Alaska.

Watchstanders at U.S. Coast Guard Sector Anchorage were alerted at around 4:31 p.m. on Sunday, January 21st, 2024, via VHF channel 16 that the 46-foot F/V ALASKA ROSE, was taking on water. Watchstanders broadcasted an urgent marine information message and deployed a U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew.

The helicopter aircrew reached the scene at about 4:56 p.m. and located an individual on the overturned vessel. The individual was hoisted by the U.S. Coast Guard, then transported to Air Station Kodiak and awaiting EMS personnel.

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King-Cove-AK-300x187Peter Pan Seafood has been processing Alaskan seafood including salmon, halibut, crab, and caviar since 1912. With processing plants in Dillingham, Port Moller, King Cove, and Valdez, they employ approximately 1,310 people during peak season.

The fishing industry in Southwest Alaska is facing a significant blow as Peter Pan Seafood announced the decision to keep its large plant in King Cove closed for the winter. Peter Pan Seafood informed local officials of the closure last week. King Cove city administrator Gary Hennigh reported that the plant generates roughly one-third of the community revenue. The company will not be processing seafood which contributes nearly $2 million in yearly fish tax revenue to the small community.

Peter Pan Seafood has also announced that only workers from previous seasons will be hired for the 2024 A Season. Due to the number of returning workers and the closure of the King Cove processing plant, there will be no new hires will be interviewed according to the company website.

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On January 5th, 2024, the Salvage Marine Firefighting team executed an air circulation procedure endorsed by the Unified Command after the Genius Star XI, a 410-foot general cargo ship reported a fire on December 30th, 2023. The primary aim of this initiative was to enhance the airflow within the cargo holds of the vessel. Currently anchored in Broad Bay, near Dutch Harbor, Alaska, there are concerns about reignition of the fire. A one-mile safety zone has been set up around the vessel, and mariners wishing to enter the zone must request permission via VHF Channel 16.

In addition to air circulation implementation, agencies are executing on-site and onshore air monitoring. Both the vessel and the Unalaska community have maintained normal air quality thus far. Continuous air monitoring will continue as external air is gradually circulated through the cargo holds.

Emergency personnel effectively removed all depleted CO2 bottles from the vessel for refilling and reinstatement. Once refilled, these bottles will be loaded back onto the vessel to comply with the fire suppression system mandated by the International Maritime Organization’s Safety of Life at Sea regulations.

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In an official statement, Ocean Beauty Seafoods revealed that distribution operations, with facilities located in Astoria and Portland, Oregon; Boise, Idaho; Dallas, Texas; Helena, Montana; Renton, Washington; and Salt Lake City, Utah, are currently for sale.

The company further stated that the sale aligns with the “long-term business strategy” of Bristol Bay Economic Corporation as well as the three individual investors who have held ownership since the mid-1990s. They report that they are diversifying into alternative investments.

“The owners feel that this is a good time to explore selling the distribution operation due to its strong performance in recent years,” Ocean Beauty Distribution President and COO Mike Coulston said.

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Maine-Lighthouse-300x168Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Dan Sullivan (R-AL), and Edward Markey (D-MA) have spearheaded a bipartisan initiative by introducing the FISH Wellness Act, aimed at enhancing safety, health, and well-being in the fishing industry. This proposed legislation aims to expand upon the successes of the Commercial Fishing Occupational Safety Research & Training Program. It seeks to tackle a spectrum of occupational hazards encountered by fishermen, including worker fatigue and substance use disorders. The act will boost funding for the program, making research and training grants more attainable by removing match requirements.

During the Pacific Marine Expo this year, a coalition of commercial fishing industry professionals convened to deliberate on approaches to tackle the mental health concerns among commercial fishermen. Across generations, individuals have dealt indirectly with mental health challenges, prompting the newer generation to advocate for a more straightforward approach; talking openly about and resolving mental health issues.

“Providing our next generation of fishermen and women with the mental health and substance abuse care that they need is vital to the success of our industry,” said Andrea Tomlinson, founder and executive director of New England Young Fishermen’s Alliance. “Commercial fishing is the second most dangerous job in the US after logging, and these workers require extra mental and behavioral health support due to the strenuous and challenging conditions of this valuable trade.”

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