Articles Posted in Alaska

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CaptainsBay-300x204Trident Seafoods is in the process of constructing the initial bunkhouses for their upcoming processing plant located in Captains Bay, Unalaska. The company hopes to have the plant operational by 2027.

The Aleutian Islands and Bering Sea are known for some of the most productive fishing grounds globally. The region is famous for harvesting Alaska pollock, the whitefish commonly used in products like fish sticks and McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwiches.

A sizable portion of the harvested pollock is currently processed at the expansive Trident Seafoods facility in Akutan. However, due to aging infrastructure and years of wear and tear, the seafood company has elected to construct a new facility.

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Wheel-300x150It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Roger Fitzgerald, an 85-year-old maritime writer. He was best known for his column titled “In Search of the Simple Life”. His column brought joy and amusement to commercial fishermen spanning from Seattle to the Bering Sea and beyond. The cause of his death was heart failure.

Over the course of 25 years, his writings in the Alaska Fisherman’s Journal and National Fisherman chronicled the remarkable transformation within the Alaska fishing industry. This evolution witnessed the shift from traditional wooden boats and iced fish to the advent of state-of-the-art factory trawlers.

Fitzgerald skillfully blended humor and admiration as he showcased a diverse cast of maritime characters. Among them were the Samuelsons and the Knutsens, skilled captains of historic halibut schooners that had been sailing the seas since the 1920s, and Sea Lion Murphy, a seasoned seinerman hailing from Cordova, Alaska.

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Wilderness_Discoverer-300x188On June 5, 2023, an engine room fire on UnCruise Adventures’ WILDERNESS DISCOVERER prompted the evacuation of crew members and passengers.

U.S. Coast Guard watchstanders in Juneau received a call at 7:30 a.m. stating that a fire had broken out aboard the vessel, and help was needed. U.S. Coast Guard cutters PIKE and ANTHONY PETIT along with an Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk aircrew and resources from the National Park Service were dispatched, and made way towards the distressed vessel.

“Our primary concern is ensuring the safety of the passengers and the crew,” said L.t. j.g. Maximilian Carfagno, the command duty officer at the Sector Juneau command center. “The quick launch of our assets and the teamwork among the Sapphire Princess helped in the timeliness of this rescue.”

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Ketchikan-300x159After 17 years, the HUBBARD, an Alaska-built ferry, embarked on its maiden voyage. The ferry, which measures 280-feet long, took an additional four years to enter service due to the need for crew quarters, an amenity that was not part of the vessel’s original design. U.S. Coast Guard regulations limit ferry crew members to a maximum of 12 hours of work per day.

Captain Darwin Jensen, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Juneau, presented the HUBBARD two captains with a certificate of inspection, marking the final step before passenger service could commence. Officials from the Alaska Marine Highway System and the state Department of Transportation Commissioner were on hand for the presentation ceremony.

The HUBBARD along with the TAZLINA are the first and only two ferries built in Alaska at a cost of $60 million each. This Alaska ferry project was conceived in 2006 with the intention of providing transportation for day trips from Juneau to Haines and Skagway. Former Governor Frank Murdowski had planned to extend the Juneau Road north to reduce the 14-hour journey, but that plan was eventually abandoned.

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C-S_System_OverviewApril 6th is National 406 Day. It is easy to remember, as the date (04/06) corresponds to the 406 MHz frequency used by these devices to transmit digital signals to satellites. These beacons are considered by many in the maritime trades to be the best life insurance available. And in some cases, they are legally required by vessel owners. To read more about safety gear, please see our page regarding life rafts, EPIRBs and survival suits. National 406 Day is also a reminder to anyone with a beacon that federal law requires registration to be current.

What exactly is an EPIRB? It is an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon that works by transmitting a signal via satellite that can then be relayed to a rescue coordination center. The device can be automatically activated (for example if the device is under more than 3 meters of water) or manually activated to transmit a distress signal.

Here is a list of 8 tips NOAA recommends when handling your EPIRB:

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Tavish-300x200The U.S. Coast Guard has successfully recovered a partially submerged tugboat that was located at the National Guard Dock in Gastineau Channel, Alaska.

In late December of 2022, the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Juneau was notified after an oil sheen was discovered.  Working together, the city of Juneau, the U.S. Coast Guard, and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation assembled a response team to deal with the vessel.

A barge-and-crane system was deployed by the salvage firm Melino’s Marine Services, that was contracted to dewater, defuel, and dismantle the TAGISH tugboat. Pieces of the demolished vessel were then placed on a barge and shipped out-of-state for disposal. The operation took about two weeks.

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Redkingcrab-300x226U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced on December 16th, 2022, the approval of multiple Alaska and Washington fishery disaster requests. This approval is based on data submitted by states and/or local tribes.

“America’s fisheries are a critical part of our national economy and directly impact our local communities when disasters occur,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “These determinations are a way to assist those fishing communities with financial relief to mitigate impacts, restore fisheries and help prevent future disasters.”

Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) and the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act (IFA) (learn more here), the following fisheries meet the criteria for a fishery disaster determination:

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Crabbing3Officials in Alaska have cancelled the autumn Bristol Bay red king crab harvest as well as the winter snow crab harvest. After a summer population survey showed dismal stocks, the difficult decision to cancel was announced by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Biologists and senior agency officials alike agreed that this is the best decision amid deep conservation concerns.

“Management of Bering Sea snow crab must now focus on conservation and rebuilding given the condition of the stock,” the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said in a statement. “Efforts to advance our science and understanding of crab population dynamics are underway. With crab industry input, ADF&G will continue to evaluate options for rebuilding, including potential for sustainably fishing during periods of low abundance.”

Snow crabs are a cold-water species, usually found in areas where water temperatures are below 2 degrees Celsius. The snow crab population collapse is still being investigated; however, scientists believe the 2019 warming of the Bering Sea has caused a change in the crabs’ metabolism, which is leading to starvation. Warmer waters may also be advantageous to certain predators, further decreasing crab stocks. Last year’s harvest was the smallest in 40 years, with a 5.6 million pound harvest.

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Cold_Bay_FB-300x157The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a 28-year-old man from F/V PHOENIX after it was reported that the crewmember was suffering from severe abdominal pain.

Watchstanders at the 17th District command center received a call from the F/V PHOENIX on Saturday, July 23rd, at about 11:24 p.m. The vessel was located approximately 160 nautical miles northwest of Cold Bay, Alaska at the time of the call.

The U.S. Coast Guard directed the launch of an Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter aircrew from the forward operation location at Cold Bay, which arrived on the scene at approximately 6:13 a.m. on Sunday, July 24th.

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SockeySalmon-300x172It’s sockeye salmon season in Alaska, and for the second year in a row, Bristol Bay is breaking catch records, a trend that is expected to continue as the week goes on.

More than 53.3 million fish had been caught by Thursday, July 14th (the run began on June 1st), and fishing is expected to continue until early August.

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, more than 1,700 drift gillnetters as well as beach-based fishers caught approximately 2.36 million sockeye salmon in a single day.

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