Articles Posted in Alaska

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NOAA-Crab-300x198Western Alaska has been hit hard economically by the long-term decline in crab stocks. This year, the Bering Sea snow crab total allowable catch was reduced by 90 percent while the Bristol Bay red king crab fishery has been closed entirely. This week, changes were made to House Bill 41, a bill allowing designated nonprofits to grow shellfish in hatcheries, moving the bill closer to becoming a law. HB 41 has now passed the Legislature; next, it will move to Gov. Dunleavy’s desk for signing.

This bill would allow for select non-profit organizations to carry out restoration and enhancement projects for specific shellfish species like king crab, sea cucumbers, abalone, and razor clams. Organizations would utilize hatcheries to raise then release shellfish into Alaskan seas in an effort to support and seed commercial fishing in the region.

HB 41 plays a key role in the building blocks to make mariculture a growing and significant part of the overall Alaska fisheries portfolio,” said Dan Ortiz, an independent Alaska representative who originally presented the bill in February, 2021.

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SockeySalmon-300x172Alaska biologists have forecasted another massive run of sockeye salmon this summer in Bristol Bay. Processors are being urged by the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association to gear up for the surge. It has been found that boosting capacity helps returns on future runs.

According to state records, 66 million salmon returned to Bristol Bay last year and approximately 40 million were harvested and processed. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has predicted that more than 75 million salmon will return to Bristol Bay rivers this summer. According to the agency, about 60 million fish will be harvested by commercial fisheries, about 20 million more than last year.

The industry concern is that fishers and processors may not be able to keep up. Harvesting and delivering this large quantity of fish means gearing up with workers, and companies have been short staffed. Finding enough workers has been complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic and challenges with the federal H-2B visa program, which is often the source of commercial fishing workers. Last month, the U.S. Departments of Labor and Homeland security committed to adding 35,000 nonagricultural worker visas, in an effort to ease the shortage of tourism and fishing workers.

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Watchstanders at AmericasFinest-300x145the 17th Coast Guard District command center in Juneau, AK received a medevac request after a crewmember aboard the 262-foot fish processor AMERICA’S FINEST suffered serious foot injuries.

The request is reported to have come from the vessel’s master at approximately 2:30am on Thursday, March 17th. The vessel was located about 20 miles west of St. George Island at the time of the incident.

A US Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew was deployed while the AMERICA’S FINEST vessel traveled toward Dutch Harbor. An HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Kodiak was also launched to provide additional support. The injured worker was hoisted at approximately 12:52pm, then flown to Dutch Harbor where LifeMed personnel were waiting.

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Law enforcement crew members working on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter BAILEY BARCO found illegally caught fish after they boarded and searched a fishing vessel. The incident took place on February 19th, while the vessel was located about 12 miles northeast of Kodiak, Alaska.

The 38-foot F/V COMPETITION was searched, and it was discovered that they were carrying 18 halibut and one ling cod during a closed season. Law enforcement personnel issued violations for possession of halibut during a closed fishery, and for operating beyond 3 nautical miles with an expired EPIRB hydrostatic release. The vessel was also operating without a current commercial fishing vessel safety examination. The catch was seized, then taken to Kodiak and turned over to NOAA Law Enforcement officers.

“Working with our partners in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, our enforcement efforts help the many legitimate Alaskan fishermen we encounter on a daily basis, ensuring nobody gains an unfair competitive advantage at the expense of biological sustainability,” said Lt. Brian Williams, Bailey Barco commanding officer.

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Glory-300x166Two fishermen were rescued by the US Coast Guard on Monday February 7th near Sitka, Alaska after the 40-foot F/V GLORY began taking on water.

Sector Juneau Command Center watchstanders received a call from the distressed vessel at about 8 p.m. An Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and crew were launched and directed to the vessel at Islet Passage, approximately nine miles south of Sitka.

The US Coast Guard aircrew lowered a rescue swimmer onto the vessel to evaluate the situation. Crewmembers were unable to locate the source of the flooding, so it was advised that the fishermen abandon ship. US Coast Guard aircrew successfully hoisted the two fishermen at about 9 p.m.

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image005-300x209On January 21st, 2022, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo announced that her office has approved Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s request for an official disaster determination.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) funds will be available to fishermen and crew members, seafood processors, and researchers who have felt the impact of this difficult season. The amount of the relief package will be determined at a later date. It is possible that some fishery related businesses will also be eligible for aid from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“Helping communities to bounce back from the impacts of fishery disasters is essential, and we are working to ensure there is relief coming for impacted Alaskans,” Raimondo said in a statement. “Disasters like these, which impact multiple fisheries across Alaska, illustrate how vital sustainable fisheries are to our economy at not only the local level, but for the economic health of our nation’s blue economy.”

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LAURA-300x150U.S. Coast Guard Sector Anchorage watchstanders received a distress call from the master of the F/V LAURA on Monday, November 1, 2021, after the vessel reportedly ran aground on the shore at Black Rock, on Kodiak Island. It was also reported that the crew was using life rafts to abandon ship.

An Air Station Kodiak C-130 Hercules aircrew and an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew were launched. Thanks to assistance from the good Samaritan F/V STILLWATER, the aircrews were able to quickly locate the fishermen. A Coast Guard helicopter crew deployed a rescue swimmer to hoist the crew-members from the sinking 90-foot F/V LAURA, and safely transported them to Air Station Kodiak.

It cannot be stressed enough how important it is that all crew members have proper safety equipment and training. For more information, read our post regarding the maintenance and testing of immersion suits.

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Patricia_Lee_FV-300x150An injured fisherman was medevaced from a fishing boat on 10/19/2021 after sustaining serious injuries to his pelvic region. It is reported that the crewmember became pinned by a crab pot while working on deck. The F/V PATRICIA LEE was located about 225 miles west of Dutch Harbor at the time of the accident.

The master of the 117-foot F/V PATRICIA LEE contacted Watchstanders in the 17th District command center in Juneau to request a medevac at about 4 p.m. The fishing vessel made its way toward Dutch Harbor as Command center personnel directed the launch of the Air Station Kodiak helicopter crew from Cold Bay. In an effort to provide backup, an additional MH-60 Jayhawk aircraft crew and a Coast Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft crew were launched from Air Station Kodiak.

The MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak hoisted the injured fisherman at approximately 11:50 p.m., then he was flown to Dutch Harbor and placed in the care of awaiting LifeMed personnel.

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https://www.maritimeinjurylawyersblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/155/2021/09/U.S.-Coast-Guard-Bertholf-300x150.jpgOn a recent patrol of the Bering Sea and Arctic regions, the U.S. Coast Guard reportedly established contact with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). Among the patrol vessels were the BERTHOLF and the KIMBALL, both 418-foot legend-class security cutters. In addition to these vessels, the HEALY, a 420-foot medium icebreaker was on the scene.

It is reported that all exchanges between the U.S. Coast Guard and PLAN were in accordance with international standards established by the Western Pacific Naval Symposium’s Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea and Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.

The PLAN task force was reported to include a guided missile destroyer, an auxiliary vessel, and a general intelligence vessel. The Chinese vessels were reportedly conducting “military and surveillance operations” while deployed in the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean. They were sighted as close as 46 miles off the coast of Aleutian Island, but at no time did the PLAN task force enter U.S. territorial waters. Territorial waters are defined as 12 nautical miles from the baseline of a coastal state. Within this zone, the coastal state exercises full sovereignty over the air space above the sea and over the seabed and subsoil.

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AMH-Jayhawk-1024x512n overdue crewmember was rescued on Friday, September 3rd, near Lazy Bay on Kodiak Island after failing to return to the F/V STORMIE B.

The master of the F/V STORMIE B called watchstanders at the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Anchorage command center to report that a crewmember, who had set out in an inflatable boat powered only by oars, was overdue. The master also reported that that they had searched the area for two hours without results.

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew was deployed from Air Station Kodiak as well as the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter NAUSHON, and the missing mariner was located. A rescue swimmer hoisted and safely transported the seafarer to a nearby cannery.

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