Articles Posted in Alaska

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Wrangell_AK-300x164It is with great sadness that we report the tragic incident that unfolded after a collision between the 58-foot F/V VIS and a 20-foot skiff in Wrangell Narrows, Alaska.

The collision claimed the life of a 73-year-old woman from California, as confirmed by the U.S. Coast Guard, and resulted in another individual being thrown into the water.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, good Samaritans pulled a 71-year old, later identified as Gordon Paul of California, from the water. He was transported to a nearby boat launch at Papke’s Landing and taken to Petersburg Medical Center.

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Falsepass_Alaska-300x184On Friday, June 7th, 2024, Trident Seafoods and Silver Bay Seafoods announced that Silver Bay is set to acquire Trident Seafoods False Pass processing facility and fuel business on the Alaska Peninsula. This is Silver Bay’s second big move in a region where they already have a presence processing salmon. With this latest addition, Silver Bay will be overseeing salmon at their facilities in Southeast Alaska (Craig, Sitka, Ketchikan), south-central Alaska (Valdez), Kodiak, Bristol Bay (Naknek), and now the Alaska Peninsula (False Pass).

By acquiring the Valdez plant in Prince William Sound and the False Pass plant in Southwest Alaska, Silver Bay has effectively doubled its capacity. The False Pass plant, which Silver Bay opened in 2019, is now an integral part of this expansion.

False Pass is a remote fishing community in southwest Alaska, situated on Unimak Island between the tip of the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutian Islands. Trident’s False Pass operation was fully dedicated to processing salmon.

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Northline_Hannah-300x181Northline Seafoods has announced the inaugural voyage of its latest vessel, F/V HANNAH, setting sail from Bellingham’s Fairhaven Shipyard to Bristol Bay for the 2024 salmon fishing season. The one-of-a-kind platform was built specifically for the conditions in Bristol Bay.

“This is a dream come true,” said Northline Seafoods CEO Ben Blakey. “Seeing our vessel leave the Fairhaven Shipyard is a critical milestone for the Bristol Bay salmon industry and for Northline Seafoods. I am proud of our team and appreciative of all the people who helped us get here.”

The F/V HANNAH is a 400′ x 100′ barge that Northline describes as a “vertically integrated, all-in-one solution for buying, freezing, shipping, storing, and distributing wild Alaska salmon.” The vessel features the capacity to freeze up to one million pounds of salmon per day, managed by a production crew of twenty. In addition, it can freeze salmon to a core temperature of -30°F in under 2 hours, and the cold storage facilities can hold over ten million pounds of frozen salmon, while also accommodating 2.3 million pounds of fresh fish.

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Wheel-300x150In response to the downturn in the seafood industry, Alaska lawmakers have approved the formation of a specialized task force created to address the challenges currently facing this vital sector. The decision reflects the need to mitigate the economic and social impacts that have reached a crisis point within the industry.

The measure, Senate Concurrent Resolution 10, will create an eight-member seafood industry task force, comprised of four state senators and four state House members, with the Senate president as chair.

The House passed the resolution nearly unanimously on Saturday May 25th, 2024. The Senate, which initially approved the resolution on April 19th, unanimously accepted the House’s amendments on Sunday.

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Spring Chinook Salmon. Photo courtesy Michael Humling, US Fish & Wildlife Service

Salmon fishing in the federal waters of Cook Inlet will restart this summer with a shift in management to the federal government, as finalized in a recent ruling. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is assuming control over salmon management in the inlet waters categorized as the federal exclusive economic zone, extending beyond 3 miles offshore. This new regulation becomes effective on May 30th.

Up until this point, the state had overseen salmon fisheries in both state and federal waters of the inlet. However, due to a decade-long legal battle, federal courts mandated a shift in management. The United Cook Inlet Drift Association (UCIDA), comprising commercial salmon fishermen, initiated legal action against the federal government in 2013, alleging a failure to formulate a salmon harvest management plan for the federal waters of the inlet. Instead of crafting a specific plan for Cook Inlet salmon, the National Marine Fisheries Service had relied on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, which historically managed salmon harvests across the inlet in both state and federal waters since statehood.

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Tanner_Crab-300x200An indictment from a federal grand jury in Alaska has been issued, accusing the owner and captains of two crab catcher vessels of unlawfully transporting crab from Alaska, a violation of the Lacey Act.

According to legal documents, Corey Potter is identified as the owner of two fishing vessels. Justin Welch and Kyle Potter serve as the captains. Between February and March of 2024, these vessels amassed a haul exceeding 7,000 pounds of Tanner and golden king crab in Southeast Alaska. Corey Potter allegedly instructed Kyle Potter and Justin Welch to transport the crab to Seattle, Washington, in an effort to fetch a higher price than that which could be obtained in Alaska. Neither captain docked the harvested crab at an Alaskan port, failing to document the harvest on a fish ticket, as mandated by state law.

Reportedly, the crab was transported through Canadian and Washington waters. Upon reaching Washington, a significant portion of the king crab was discovered to be dead or unsuitable for sale. Corey Potter purportedly admitted that some of the crab on board was afflicted with Bitter Crab Syndrome (BCS), a fatal parasitic disease affecting crustaceans. An additional 4,000 pounds of Tanner crab was allegedly disposed of due to the risk of BCS contamination. Legal documents contend that had the crab been correctly landed in Alaska, the harvest would have been inspected, and infected crab would have been identified and discarded before departing from Alaska.

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Kodiak-Harbor-from-the-Glacier-Bay-300x219Stacey and Jacobsen, PLLC is pleased to announce that Senate Bill 93 sailed through the Alaska House with a resounding 39-1 majority, with only Representative David Eastman, R-Wasilla, in opposition. This legislation, championed by the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee and several other organizations, raises the caps on compensation from the Alaska Fisherman’s Fund for injuries and illness sustained by commercial fishermen. Its passage strengthens the assurance that medical expenses from fishing-related accidents are better addressed for crew members.

“I think it’s crucial that we support hard working Alaskans, especially when they’ve become ill or injured on the job and need money from funds that they have paid into,” said Senate Labor and Commerce Committee Chair Jesse Bjorkman R-Nikiski. “Commercial fishermen will have greater financial support from the Alaska Fisherman’s Fund when they file a claim with no cost to the State, because the Fisherman’s Fund dollars come from fees received from commercial fishing license sales.”

The Fishermen’s Fund was established in 1951. The fund provides medical treatment and care for licensed commercial fishermen who sustain injuries while working in fishing activities in Alaska. Whether offshore or onshore, fishermen are covered while on active crew status.

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Alaska-topographic-map_1-300x194A federal agency has decided not to proceed with a controversial bottom-trawling experiment that was planned this year for the Northern Bering Sea. Tribal and environmental groups, prepared to take legal action to stop the project, are welcoming the decision.

The Northern Bering Sea Effects of Trawling Study (NETS) aims to investigate the consequences of commercial bottom trawling, a fishing technique utilizing nets to sweep the seafloor, in an area of the Bering Sea where it is presently prohibited. Despite the ban on bottom trawling in the Northern Bering Sea, the study anticipates that changes in fish populations due to climate change may create future pressures for its implementation in the region.

The research project, slated to begin as early as August, is structured as a multiyear endeavor. Janet Coit, the director of NOAA Fisheries, conveyed the decision via email to tribal organizations that had voiced objections to the project.

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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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