Articles Posted in Alaska

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KingCrab-300x158When we consider autumnal foods and beverages, we often think about Pumpkin Spice lattes, and who doesn’t love a tiny Halloween Snickers bar?  But there is another type of food we should all be celebrating: Seafood! October is National Seafood Month, which means paying homage to one of our nation’s oldest industries. Here are seven ways you can participate:

Eat or serve seafood at least twice weekly. Seafood is a great source of healthy lean protein, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, and proven to support heart and brain health.

Partake in a local seafood festival. Communities across the nation celebrate and support the hard-working men and women who put this delicious staple on our tables.

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Crabbing3How much does a commercial fisherman make? Thanks to popular shows like Alaska Fish Wars and Deadliest Catch, interest in the fishing industry is at an all-time high. But how much can a commercial fisher really expect to earn? This is the million-dollar question, and the short answer is, it depends. The long answer? It depends.

It depends on how long a worker is at sea. It depends on the location. It depends on the species being fished. It depends on how experienced the worker is, and it depends on the type of contract entered into. In addition, the fishing industry is dependent on many factors that are beyond the worker’s control.  The rewards can be tremendous. However, the hardships can be significant. Salaries vary widely between regions and are closely tied to seasonal conditions and experience. A good season can bring great rewards, while a poor season may have workers questioning their decision to work at sea. It is also one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.

According to ZipRecruiter  (a job posting service and employment search engine), the average annual pay for a Commercial Fisherman in the United States is $53,097 per year. Annual salaries are reported as high as $82,000 and as low as $16,000, but most Commercial Fishing salaries are currently $36,500 (25th percentile) to $78,000 (75th percentile) per year across the United States.

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Biorka-Island-Coast-Guard-300x225Watchstanders at U. S. Coast Guard Sector Juneau received a report on July 21st at approximately 10:20 a.m that the captain of the processing vessel NORTHWIND had sustained a serious hand injury, possibly severing several fingers. The vessel was located just northeast of Biorka Island at the time of the incident.

The crew aboard the charter fishing vessel NORTH RIVER heard the call for help over VHF channel 16 and noted that they were very close to the NORTHWIND position. The good Samaritan crew responded that they were on their way and would transport the injured captain to shore.

The U. S. Coast Guard was performing a training flight in the area and met the good Samaritan vessel at the shore. They collected the captain then transported him by MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter to the Sitka Fire Department emergency medical team for further treatment.

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WhittierExp1-300x225Just after midnight on July 8th, the town of Whittier, Alaska was rocked when an explosion occurred on a fixed barge at the Delong Dock. Fire from the explosion spread to the pier as well as the docked 99-foot F/V ALAGANIK. Watchstanders were alerted to the explosion and blaze after they heard “Whittier fire, Whittier fire” on VHF Channel 16. They contacted Whittier dispatchers, who confirmed that the Delong Dock was indeed on fire.

A 100-yard safety zone was set up to keep vessels away from the fire, and the crew of the U. S. Coast Guard Cutter CHANDELEUR worked to maintain the safety zone as responders searched for a 49-year-old man from Cordova, Alaska who was reported as missing.

In addition to Coast Guard crews, response efforts included members of the Whittier Fire Department, Whittier Police Department, Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel Fire Department and Girdwood Fire Department. Whittier Fire Department chief Brian Hicks was reported to be the on-scene commander. Whittier Fire Department personnel reported the fire extinguished at about 2:50 a.m.

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It is with great sadness that we report that the search for a missing fisherman near Nashagak Bay has been suspended.

On MDillingham_Alaska_aerial_viewonday, July 1st at about 3 a.m. watchstanders in the Sector Anchorage command center received a call via VHF-FM marine radio that a crewmember aboard the F/V PAIL RIDER had fallen overboard in Nashagak Bay.

The U.S. Coast guard dispatched a C-130 Hercules aircraft crew and MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Kodiak to search for the missing crew member. Flares were also fired by the F/V PAIL RIDER crew to alert other vessels in the area. Searchers were optimistic that because the fisherman was wearing bright orange pants and bib that he would be spotted by one of the approximately 10 good Samaritan vessels that were near the scene and searching. The missing crew member was not wearing a life jacket when he fell overboard. The F/V PAIL RIDER is home-ported in Dillingham, Alaska. Originally, the U.S. Coast Guard was optimistic that the man would be found.

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Bristol-Bay-Dockside-Exams-300x214Commercial fishing continues to be among the most hazardous jobs in the U.S. but there are many ways vessel owners and crew members can mitigate risk. In an effort to prepare for the 2019 Bristol Bay commercial salmon season, the U.S. Coast Guard is offering free dockside examinations for all commercial fishing vessels. Locations and dates are as follows:

King Salmon: June 6-21

Dillingham: June 10-20

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USCGC_HickoryThe U.S. Coast Guard has released the results of the investigation into the crane accident that took the life of Chief Warrant Officer Michael Kozloski on January 31st, 2019. The accident occurred in the Coast Guard buoy yard in Homer, Alaska. The 35-year-old accident victim 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.

The investigation revealed that the direct cause of the accident was the improper operation of the shoreside crane. Investigators also found that inadequate crewmember training, a complacency of shoreside operations, and leadership deficiencies aboard the Cutter Hickory contributed to the accident.

The commanding officer of the Cutter Hickory has been temporarily relieved of duty, with “loss of confidence in the officer’s ability to perform his duties” as the official reason cited. The call was made by Rear Adm. Matthew Bell Jr., who is the commander of the 17th Coast Guard District. A formal review is pending.

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1200px-DHC-3-Otter-300x141Six people are confirmed dead after two floatplanes collided near Ketchikan, Alaska. Originally, 2 people were missing, but the U.S. Coast Guard and Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad located the remaining two near the crash site of the Beaver floatplane.  They were deceased.

“We have been in regular contact with the family members throughout our search efforts,” said Capt. Stephen White, Sector Juneau commander. “This is not the outcome we hoped for and extend our deepest sympathies during this very difficult time.”

Ten people were taken to area hospitals and four with more serious injuries were flown to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center.

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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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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.”