Articles Posted in Alaska

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Astoria-300x196Those who work at sea know the importance of the U.S. Coast Guard as first responders. This work is so vital to the maritime trades that they have designated two new cities as “Coast Guard Cities”, Cordova, Alaska and Westport, Washington. This program was created in 1998 by the United States Congress to identify and distinguish those cities that supported Coast Guard personnel. The first city to be recognized was Grand Haven, Michigan.

What is a “Coast Guard City”?

Currently, there are 28 cities in the U.S designated as Coast Guard Cities and Communities. This distinction is given to cities where service members and their families are highly supported by citizens. Cities apply for Coast Guard City status and are selected by the Standing Board. Cities that are granted status are eligible to remain part of this program for 5 years, at which time they may reapply for recertification. Current cities and criteria are available at Coast Guard Cities.

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Boot-e1573002489495-668x1024Processing fish at sea has numerous benefits. At-sea-processing offers consumers the freshest product, reduces waste due to spoilage, and minimizes transportation fuel costs. But what happens to the waste products such as fish heads, fins and internal fish organs? They cannot simply be thrown overboard as they are considered “garbage”. The IMO has set up rules and regulations for the prevention of pollution by garbage from vessels and is covered under the Annex V of MARPOL.

MARPOL food waste disposal regulations require grinding seafood waste remains into particles ½” or smaller before they can be disposed of in Alaskan waters. This means that fish processing vessels must be outfitted with industrial grinders that can handle these byproducts. In addition, the ground seafood waste can only be discharged when the vessel is 3 nautical miles or more from land or 12 nautical miles from land if the vessel is in a location deemed “special”.

But these are not just any grinders. These heavy-duty industrial grinders, such as the Muffin Monster industrial seafood waste processor, must be able to grind rocks that have been ingested by sea creatures and stainless steel fishhooks that may still be in their mouths. It isn’t unusual for a halibut head to weigh more than 35 pounds, and these industrial grinders are known to macerate it in less than 20 seconds.

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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.