Boat on the sea
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FishA new bill called the Human Trafficking and IUU Fishing Act (H.R.6834) has been introduced in response to two issues that are plaguing our globe: the growing prevalence of human trafficking and forcing those persons to fish illegally thus abusing the worldwide seafood supply chain.

U.S. Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-Guam) states, “The United States must combat human rights abuses across the global seafood industry and ensure that American fishermen are never expected to compete against foreign imports produced with slave labor. Increasingly, we are seeing foreign fishing fleets forcing vulnerable people who are trafficked, drugged and coerced to fish around the clock out of fear for their lives. I am pleased to have the support of my Congressional colleagues on this bipartisan legislation to increase federal action against the global crimes of human trafficking and IUU fishing.”

Since 2016, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has seized approximately 15 shipments of seafood known to have been processed illegally on mainland China by North Korean workers under forced labor. And, in a 2018 report published by the U.S. State Department, over 40 countries were identified as having “substantial human trafficking and forced labor issues across their seafood industries and supply chains”. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is especially prevalent in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.

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Fire-1024x766A 28-year-old crewmember was medevaced to Anchorage, Alaska after suffering burns while working on the EVER LIVING vessel incinerator on Saturday, September 22nd. Coast Guard 17th District Command Center watchstanders received an alert via email regarding the injuries. The Coast Guard duty flight surgeon recommended a medevac based on the man’s symptoms.

The 1,099-foot bulk carrier EVER LIVING was about 621 miles from Dutch Harbor at the time of the alert. The shipmaster was directed by watchstanders to navigate toward the Dutch Harbor station to cut down on transit time. A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew was able to meet the carrier approximately 57 miles southeast of Dutch Harbor, then transport the injured worker to Anchorage for medical treatment.

“We had the Ever Living transit toward Dutch Harbor to get within range of the Dolphin helicopter crew and to lessen the flight time for the injured crew member,” said Chief Petty Officer Seth Caron, District 17 operational unit controller. “We hope he gets the necessary care needed and makes a full recovery.”

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Capt-Billy-Haver

Photo by Marc Piché courtesy of Shipspotter.com

One crewmember is dead, a second wounded, and a third has been arrested after a brutal attack aboard the F/V CAPT BILLY HAVER, an 82-foot fishing trawler based in Virginia.

27-year-old Franklin Freddy Meave Vazquez was arrested and charged with one count of murder and one count of attempted murder on Monday, September 24th. He will appear in federal court in Boston at a time to be determined.

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Underwater-Wreckage-1024x732A diver was medevaced after an accident that occurred about nine miles northeast of False Pass, Alaska on Thursday, September 13th. The diver was working on a wreckage project, when a piece of underwater debris broke loose and pinned him to the ocean floor at a depth of approximately 65 feet. After several minutes, the diver was able to free himself and make his way to the surface; however, it was reported that he sustained injures to the left side of his body and was bleeding from his nose.

The dive master aboard the vessel MAKUSHIN BAY called watchstanders at the 17th District command center in Juneau at about 1:50pm to report the accident, and the Coast Guard duty flight surgeon recommended the medevac. A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew out of Air Station Kodiak was in Cold Bay on another transport, and was able to safely deliver their patient then travel to the injured diver. He was hoisted aboard, then transported to medical care in Cold Bay.

“The diver’s ability to free himself, coupled with our aircrew’s proximity to the accident today provided a favorable outcome,” said Lt. Stephen Nolan, command duty officer for the case. “The aircrew just so happened to be in Cold Bay on a separate, unrelated mission. As vast a place as Alaska is, being able to get to someone who needs help in time is always one of the biggest challenges our crews face. We were grateful to be able to do that today.”

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Smartphone-at-Sea-1024x683Communication while aboard vessels has been an issue for seafarers for as long as humans have been going to sea. We have gone from bells and foghorns to the first radio telegraph in 1895, to the innovative satellite communication products of today. Communicating with other vessels, with emergency crew, with friends and family on land, or with bounty hunters who retrieve and return lost gear (yes, that really is a thing; keep reading to learn more) has become paramount. We share information with other fishing boats and try to stay ahead of the weather. Technology has come a long way, and our phones are making things even safer for people who work at sea.

The Pew Research Center for Internet and Technology has been tracking U.S. mobile phone statistics since before 2004. What was once a gadget used only by contractors and millionaires, the cellphone is now in the hands of nearly 94% of all U.S. adults, and a smartphone is owned by more than 76% of adults.

Cellphone-Chart
Smartphones are virtually small computers that fit in your pocket. With cutting edge software and accessories, smartphones are empowering fishermen and solving what were once big problems. Even sales and marketing can be done at sea with a smartphone fitted with satellite capabilities.

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Colorado-River-NeedlesA Labor Day weekend river cruise turned deadly after two boats collided on Saturday evening. Authorities are still investigating the cause of Saturday’s head-on collision that sunk both vessels and left all 16 passengers in the water. It was reported that two boats were involved, one carrying 10 people and the other carrying 6 passengers. The incident happened just north of Lake Havasu, on a stretch of the Colorado River located between Needles, California and Topock, Arizona.

Good Samaritans arrived at the scene before emergency officials and pulled many of the victims from the water; but in the current, several passengers were swept downriver. According to Mohave County Sheriff Doug Shuster, none of the passengers were wearing life jackets. While life jackets are not required by law, they are strongly recommended by authorities.

According to Eric Sherwin, a spokesperson for the San Bernardino County Fire Department, emergency rescue personnel arrived approximately 45 minutes after the initial call for assistance. Nine people were transported by ambulance to area hospitals while two critically injured victims were airlifted by helicopter to a Las Vegas hospital.

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Pink-SalmonSalmon season is always an anxious time for fisherman, as everyone waits to see how accurate catch predictions will be. But this year has proven to be quite disappointing as Alaska’s statewide salmon catch is expected to fall 31 percent below pre-season predictions. All species of salmon catches are down except for sockeye.

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the total shortfall can be blamed on the poor returns of one specific species, pink salmon, to the Gulf of Alaska. Initial forecasting predicted a pink salmon catch of approximately 70 million, but current numbers are at 38 million. This small salmon species, also known as “Humpback Salmon” for the distinctive large hump that males develop on their backs during spawning season, usually weigh just 2 to 6 pounds as adults. Since the fish are flakey and low in oil content, they are generally processed and sold as value-added products such as salmon patties or frozen marinated steaks. Most pink salmon is canned, which yields a final product with a long shelf life that can be easily transported.

It was expected that the pink salmon run would be low this year, as the fish returning are the offspring of those that spawned in 2016, a devastatingly low year for pink salmon. Alaska issued a federal disaster declaration in several regions due to the low 2016 harvest and was subsequently issued $56 million in aid. However, these 2018 yields are far lower than anyone predicted.

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MRI-850x700The 2018 fishing season has seen many head and brain injuries. Being injured while working at sea can be disastrous to one’s career, but head and brain injuries can also be debilitating. Jones Act Law protects seamen, fishermen, tugboat workers, and crewmembers who have been injured while working at sea. The maritime doctrine of “maintenance and cure” is a no-fault maritime benefit. It means that the employer must pay for all reasonable medical expenses associated with a head or brain injury, including the following:

• Hospitalization

• Emergency Transportation

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Seafood-300x256Commercial fishing is full of variables and risk; extreme weather, aging fleets, dwindling stocks, fish migration, and climate change to name just a few. However, economic issues have a way of overshadowing everything when they arise. This summer, commercial fishermen are worried that they may have been dealt a serious blow in the form of retaliatory tariffs. To punish the U.S. for its evolving trade policies, China has imposed a 25 percent tariff on Pacific Northwest seafood. According to many commercial fishermen and politicians, this could be a devastating blow to the fragile seafood industry.

How did we get here? Originally, seafood was not on the list of exports that would be targeted with tariffs. However, in response to the Trump administration’s tariffs on Chinese goods, the Chinese government has reacted by issuing a 25 percent tariff on all Pacific Northwest seafood. This could be particularly damaging for Alaska, as China purchases an estimated $1 billion a year in Alaskan seafood, making seafood the state’s largest export.

President Trump has placed $34 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods and plans to implement an additional $16 billion on Thursday, August 23rd if no new agreement is reached. China has guaranteed that they will respond with retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products.

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Coast-Guard-MH-60-Jayhawk-300x169Watchstanders received a call on Monday, August 6th from the 116-foot F/V PATRICIA LEE reporting that a crewmember had been struck in the head by a crab pot. The Coast Guard duty flight surgeon recommended a medevac. However, due to the distant location of the vessel, two Air Station Kodiak MH-60 aircrews, a Coast Guard corpsman and an HC-130 Hercules aircrew were required for the rescue. The vessel was located approximately 190 miles west of Dutch Harbor at the time of the injury.

The first Jayhawk aircrew traveled from Kodiak to Cold Bay; the second aircrew flew from Cold Bay to the injured crewmember aboard the F/V PATRICIA LEE. The Hercules aircrew provided transportation for the second Jayhawk aircrew and facilitated communications during the medevac.

After orchestrating a heroic rescue (which included flying over 1,200 miles over a period of 17 hours) the 27-year-old man was transferred to awaiting medical personnel in Dutch Harbor. He was reported to be in stable condition.