Boat on the sea
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SkyTruth_Fleets-1024x521As the world’s demand for seafood continues to rise, new methods for tracking global commercial fishing activities are imperative. In a groundbreaking study published in the journal Science, some extraordinary data are showing how fishing vessels are covering the world’s oceans, and which countries are bringing in the biggest catches.

Much of the data in the study was gathered by Global Fishing Watch, a partnership between Oceana, SkyTruth, and Google. The organization uses high-tech satellite images and AIS (Automatic Identification Systems) to monitor, record, and track the movement of fishing vessels around the globe. In the past, this data was collected using logbooks, observers in fishing ports, and electronic vessel tracking. Despite its suggestive nature, this information was often out of date, incomplete, and inaccurate.

The accuracy of the newer methods is connected to the massive amounts of data collected between 2012 and 2016. Over 22 billion AIS messages were logged, identifying more than 70,000 vessels. Computers running sophisticated software programs searched for patterns in the large data sets. They were able to match vessels to fleet registries and track vessel movements. Computer algorithms were also used to determine when a vessel was fishing and what it was fishing for. For instance, the data collected in 2016 reveals that of the vessels tracked, over 40 million hours were spent at sea and the vessels traveled approximately 460 million kilometers.

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Atlantic_Salmon-1024x683The Washington State Senate has voted 31-16 to ban all new Atlantic salmon farming in the state and phase out net pen farming by 2025. The phasing out plan will happen gradually as existing aquatic leases expire. This is an update to a post dated August 29, 2017, when we reported that a net pen breach was discovered after Lummi fishers began catching rouge Atlantic salmon along with indigenous Chinook salmon. It was estimated that over 250,000 Atlantic salmon escaped into the Salish Sea.

Initially, Cooke Aquaculture, the owner of the pens, reported that the net pen breach was due to the solar eclipse and high tides. However, after a four-month investigation by three state agencies, it was found that the escape was due to poor maintenance and negligence. At the time of the breach, Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands, had already terminated two leases with Cooke at Cypress Island and Port Angeles due to violations of their lease agreement.

“The state ban is a strong stance to ensure the protection of our marine environment and native salmon populations in the Salish Sea,” said Senator Kevin Ranker. “We have invested far too much in the restoration of our Salish Sea. The economic, cultural, and recreational resources of these incredible waters will no longer be jeopardized by the negligent actions of this industry.”

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Brain_Scan-1024x731The U.S. Coast Guard recently received an alarming call; a 44-year-old male appeared to be suffering a stroke while working on the fishing vessel GOLDEN ALASKA, which was located approximately 60 miles northeast of Cold Bay. Time is of the essence when treating a stroke, but what happens when the victim is out at sea? The U.S. Coast Guard forward deployed assets are crucial for this type of incident, as they are saving precious time getting crewmembers to proper medical services.

However, it is up to crewmembers to recognize stroke symptoms, report them, and get help as quickly as possible. March 12th marks the beginning of National Brain Awareness week, and this case reminds us just how important it is to know the signs of a stroke and what to do if you or a crewmate suffer the same fate. According to The American Stroke Association, stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in our nation, and the leading cause of disability. Someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds (about 800,000 strokes happen per year).

What is a stroke?

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Coast-Guard-MH-60-JayhawkOnce again, the benefits of having Coast Guard assets forward deployed were realized when a crewmember aboard the F/V Island Enterprise was found unconscious in the freezer compartment of the vessel last week.

Watchstanders at the 17th Coast Guard District command center were contacted on February 16th at approximately 5:30 p.m. by Health Force Partners. The agency is contracted by many vessel owners to provide injury and illness treatment as well as occupational assessments. Watchstanders in turn contacted the Coast Guard duty flight surgeon, who recommended the medevac for the unconscious worker.

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew hoisted the 57-year-old man from the vessel then transported him to Cold Bay, then on to Anchorage for emergency medical treatment. This was the sixth reported Coast Guard medevac rescue for the winter fishing season.

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MLB-Cape-Disappointment-300x197The U.S. Coast Guard Sector Columbia River was contacted on Monday morning after a worker was injured while installing a recirculation system aboard the bulk carrier Ergina Luck. The worker fell into the bilge, and it was reported that both his legs and back were injured in the fall and that he was unable to walk. The Ergina Luck was anchored in Astoria at the time of the accident.

The Clatsop County high-angle rescue team was transported from Station Cape Disappointment aboard a 47-foot Motor Life Boat to assist and transport the injured man. The rescue team immobilized the injured worker, then carried him up three sets of stairs before he could be lowered to the crew members aboard the MLB. He was then transported to emergency medical services at the 17th Street Pier in Astoria, Oregon.

The injured man is employed by Degesch America at their Portland, Oregon location. The company specializes in fumigation, degassing, and abatement services for bulk carrier vessels. The incident is under investigation.

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Cold-Bay-USCG-1024x520A 25-year-old man was airlifted by the U.S. Coast Guard from the 107-foot fishing vessel Bering Hunter after he fell and suffered a head injury.

Watchstanders at the 17th Coast Guard District command center received a call from the captain of the vessel, stating that a crewmember had fallen and sustained a head injury. The Coast Guard duty flight surgeon recommended the medevac, and a Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew was dispatched to the Bering Hunter location.

“Having assets forward deployed to Cold Bay during the winter fishing season allows our crews to respond quickly,” said Lt. J.G. Rian Ellis, a 17th district watchstander. “We are able to eliminate hours of flight time in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands, ensuring the safety of mariners.”

Published on: North Coast commercial crab season is off to an arduous start, as the U.S. Coast Guard oversaw two search-and-rescue missions this weekend. The search for one missing crabber who fell overboard has sadly been suspended.

Shortly after 1 a.m. on Sunday, February 4th, two crew members who were tending crab pots on the Chief Joseph fell overboard. The vessel was approximately eight miles south of the South Spit in Humboldt Bay when the accident occurred. The captain successfully pulled one fisherman back aboard but was unable to locate the other crewmember.

First on the scene was an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Humboldt Bay followed by a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat crew from Station Humboldt Bay. Approximately an hour later, a C-27 Spartan fixed-wing aircraft from Air Station Sacramento arrived, and the area was combed until the search was suspended at approximately 1:15 p.m.

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Sunnfjord1280x960-300x225Five fishermen were rescued by the US Coast Guard after their vessel began taking on water west of Cape Alava, Washington.

Watchstanders were alerted to the situation on Wednesday, January 31st at 1:15 p.m. The 87-foot F/V Sunnfjord was taking on water, however, dewatering pumps were unable to keep up with the rising water. Good Samaritan vessels Island Voyager and Equinox responded to the distress call in addition to Coast Guard cutters Cuttyhunk and Swordfish. An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles, a Motor Life Boat from Station Quillayute River, and a Motor Life Boat from Station Neah Bay were also part of the response team. Watch the video of this heroic rescue.

As the water rose in the engine room, fishermen donned survival suits and life jackets. The helicopter crew initially planned to pick up and deliverer another dewatering pump, but as the situation grew dire, they refueled at Neah Bay then traveled directly to the F/V Sunnfjord.

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cold-bay-alaskax1800-1In an effort to reduce response times during the winter commercial fishing season, the U.S Coast Guard is making good use of a “forward operating location” in Cold Bay. It was a busy week for the U.S. Coast Guard, 17th District Alaska, as they rescued a total of 4 maritime workers from various fishing vessels in the Cold Bay area this week.

On January 23rd, a Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew (forward deployed to Cold Bay) medevaced two men from two different fishing vessels in one heroic trip.

A 21-year-old man aboard F/V Ocean Peace was suffering from sea sickness and loss of consciousness when watchstanders at the 17th Coast Guard District command received the call. Sea sickness a common issue for seamen and fishermen, and the dehydration that accompanies it can be very serious. The Jayhawk helicopter crew hoisted the 21-year-old man at approximately 5 p.m., then picked up a 37-year-old man with a hip injury from the F/V Northern Patriot. Both men were safely transported and received medical treatment.

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Shipwreck-1024x683In a precedent-setting case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that injured fishermen and seamen are indeed entitled to punitive damages under maritime law unseaworthiness guidelines. In reaching this decision in the case of Batterton v. Dutra Group, the Ninth Circuit Court referenced the outcome of several cases, including Tabingo v. American Triumph LLC, a landmark case handled by Stacey and Jacobsen, PLLC, in the Washington State Supreme Court (read about this case here). The court found that if a shipowner acts “recklessly” and creates an unseaworthy condition, the injured seaman may sue for punitive damages in addition to damages for lost income, pain and suffering, retraining costs, and all other damages.

Batterton Case Background

Christopher Batterton was a deckhand working aboard a vessel owned and operated by Dutra Group. His left hand was crushed when a hatch cover blew open. As air was pumped into a compartment below, the pressure rose to dangerous levels. This accident was directly caused by the absence of an exhaust system. With no exhaust system, the vessel was deemed “unseaworthy”. Batterton sued the vessel owner and sought punitive damages in addition to other damages. The injuries sustained in that accident caused permanent disability to Batterton and took away his livelihood.