Boat on the sea
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Alaska_fishermen_working_with_net-300x225In an effort to lower the barrier to entry in the fishing industry, to retire a “graying fleet” of vessels, and to attract a younger group of fishers into the industry, the Local Fish Fund has announced a new and innovative loan program. Loans are structured based on quotas and shares rather than fixed payments, which creates a system that is flexible and spreads risk.

“The cost and risk involved in accessing Alaska’s quota share fisheries are comparable to purchasing a hotel as a first step in home ownership,” said Linda Behnken, founder of the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust and director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association in Sitka. “We’re looking for ways to help the next generation of fishing families get that start and build sufficient equity to eventually access conventional loans. Part of what has made it really challenging to buy into the fisheries is the uncertainty and how that will affect their ability to make fixed payments that don’t fluctuate as catches or fish prices drop,” Behnken said. “We share and reduce that risk, so the payments are based on what fishermen are paid at the dock. If the price falls, so does the payment; conversely, if they go up, it’s a bigger share.”

A recent survey reported that the average age of an Alaska fisherman is 50. Fewer young people are entering the field due to financial barriers such as a limited number of permits available as well as high vessel and equipment costs. Participants in the new Local Fish Fund loan program must be willing to participate in fishery conservation programs and agree to a variable repayment structure based on the value of their catch. As young fishers work to repay these loans, they build equity as well as credit history, making future loans and refinancing with traditional lenders an option. The “quota shares” will act as collateral for the borrower.

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Louisiana-BargeA maritime construction worker has been awarded $3.3 million after a Louisiana federal court judge ruled that the worker’s head and spinal injuries were due to a captain’s negligence. The case was covered by the Jones Act and the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA).

Devin Barrios, a maritime construction worker, was transferring a portable generator from a boat to a barge when the accident occurred. Rather than secure the two vessels properly with mooring lines, the captain used engine power alone to hold the two vessels together during the transfer. The 22-year old was straddling the two vessels when they unexpectedly shifted. Barrios fell in the water, and the 150-pound generator tumbled down on top of him. He suffered a head injury with mild brain trauma that required 28 staples, and his spinal injuries required surgery. There is still the possibility of future surgery.

Jones Act and LHWCA grant unique and special rights to maritime workers. The LHWCA provides rights for land-based workers who perform work on, for, and around vessels. Employers are required to provide compensation irrespective of fault for the accidental injury or death arising out of a covered worker’s employment. Under the Jones Act, an employer is required to provide crewmembers with a reasonably safe place to work and reasonable care to prevent injuries. Negligence is the failure to do something that a reasonably prudent person would do, or not do, under similar circumstances. In this case, the reasonable and prudent option would have been to use mooring lines during the transfer of equipment. In the event of an injury, the employer is obligated to provide maintenance and cure, regardless of fault or negligence.

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DestinationMemorialAfter a two-year investigation, the U.S. Coast Guard has released its findings regarding the devastating F/V DESTINATION accident that took the lives of all six crew members aboard the vessel. According to Captain Lee Boone, Chief of Coast Guard Investigations, “It just wasn’t one thing”.

On February 11th, 2017, the crew of the Seattle-based crab boat, DESTINATION set off into the Bering Sea with a stability report that was more than 20 years old, an exhausted crew, and freezing spray and ice that overloaded the vessel.

“Since 1993, some changes had been made to the vessel,” Captain Boone said. “Those should have been incorporated into updated stability instructions that the master could follow.”

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Cutter_Midgett-300x200Hand injuries can be devastating and sometimes career-ending for people who work at sea. Medical attention must be secured quickly after an injury for the best outcome. On Sunday, March 3rd, the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a 57-year-old male after he sustained a hand injury while working aboard the F/V OCEAN ROVER.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard 17th District Command Center in Juneau, Alaska received a call from Health Force Partners that a crewmember had suffered an injury and required medical attention. The Coast Guard Duty flight surgeon recommended a medevac, and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew aboard the Cutter John Midgett hoisted the man from the F/V OCEAN ROVER. He was flown to Cold Bay then taken to Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage for treatment.

“This same helicopter crew has now conducted four medevacs over the past week in the vicinity of Cold Bay,” said Chief Petty Officer Michael Haselden, command duty officer for the case. “Having this helicopter crew deployed in the Bering Sea with Coast Guard Cutter John Midgett was a strategy that paid off tremendously for the fishing fleet. The cutter crew has worked tirelessly to support the helicopter crew, providing opportunities to land and refuel as necessary.”

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Bering-Sea-AK-300x225Once again, forward deployed assets were able to quickly and efficiently respond to a member of the maritime community in need of medical assistance.

Alaska Maritime Physicians relayed the message to watchstanders at Coast Guard 17th District Command Center in Juneau, that a man aboard the F/V VAERDAL was suffering from chest pains. The duty flight surgeon was briefed and requested a helicopter crew.

A forward deployed Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew, aboard the Coast Guard Cutter John Midgett, medevaced the man from the vessel, which was located approximately 70 miles north of Cold Bay. He was then transported to awaiting medical personnel.

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Telemedicine-300x220Imagine being out at sea when suddenly your crewmember begins feeling weak and complains of a faint pain in his chest. When someone falls ill or is injured at sea, time, information, and support are crucial. This is a situation that requires “Telemedicine.”

Telemedicine is the term we use to describe telecommunication and information technology that helps provide clinical health care from a distance. It is a crucial service for those who work at sea and has saved countless lives in emergency situations.

In the past, radios and telephones were used to deliver information and messages. Now, via cell and satellite technology, physicians can use iPhones, iPads, photos, and video technology to diagnose and sometimes treat patients remotely.

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Kari_Marie-300x225A forward-deployed U.S. Coast Guard Air Station helicopter crew was called to medevac a crewmember on Monday after he suffered a compound fracture while aboard the F/V KARI MARIE. The fishing boat was located approximately 200 miles north of St. Paul, Alaska when the incident occurred.

Watchstanders at District 17 Command Center received notification from the F/V PACIFIC MARINER about the injury, as they were relaying communications on behalf of the F/V KARI MARIE crew. In an effort to provide additional communication coverage, an Air Station Kodiak HC-130 Hercules aircrew was also diverted to assist with the incident.

The crewmember was reported to be in stable condition after he was transported to local emergency medical personnel in St. Paul.

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Dutch-Harbor-e1550617197701-300x186Five crewmembers were rescued on Friday by the Good Samaritan vessel KONA KAI after the F/V PACIFIC 1 sunk in the Bering Sea. Just before the Seattle based cod fishing boat went down, it was reported to have been listing heavily.

The U.S. Coast Guard watchstanders received notification from the F/V KONA KAI that the 58-foot F/V PACIFIC 1, located about 40 miles southwest of Dutch Harbor, Alaska, had begun taking on water. The KONA KAI lost communication with the Pacific 1, but their last known location was transmitted to officials.

Two Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews were deployed from their forward-operating location in Cold Bay, Alaska. They arrived in time to assist the KONA KAI in locating the inflatable life raft that held all 5 people. While Coast Guard personnel were able to locate the raft, an inflight issue forced them to set a data marker buoy then return to Cold Bay.

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USCGC_HickoryIt is with great sadness that we report the death of a U.S. Coast Guard officer after he was struck by a crane in Homer, Alaska.

Michael Kozloski, a 35-year-old Chief Warrant Officer from Mahopac, New York, was a crew member aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Hickory. A 17-year veteran, he was working in the vessel buoy yard when a crane rolled over and struck him.

Emergency medical personnel from the Homer Volunteer Fire Department responded and performed CPR. Officer Kozloski was transported to South Peninsula Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased.

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cold-bay-alaskax1800-1-300x225The U.S. Coast Guard “forward deploys” assets to Cold Bay during the winter fishing season in an effort to shave hours off flight times when emergency personnel must respond to situations in the Bering Sea and the Aleutian Islands. Once again, this practice proves prudent.

On Tuesday, January 29th at approximately 11pm, the U.S. Coast Guard 17th District Command Center watchstanders received a call from Health Force Partners with a request for a medevac. A 35-year-old crewmember aboard the F/V Golden Alaska was suffering from severe leg pain and needed medical attention. The vessel was located approximately 40 miles north of the Cold Bay station. Watchstanders directed the launch of a U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew, forward-deployed to Cold Bay. The crewmember was hoisted then transported to the Cold Bay clinic. It was reported that he arrived in stable condition.

“Our forward operating locations are critical to mission success in Alaska,” said Lt. Jeff Mistrick, a Jayhawk pilot on the medevac. “Alaska has more than 47,300 miles of shoreline and encompasses more than 3.8 million square miles of land that we are responsible for covering. Had it not been for our close proximity to this man, we may not have been able to hoist him as quickly as we did.”