A Hong Kong flagged bulk carrier, LUZON STRAIT, lost engine and generator power outside the entrance to the Columbia River Bar on Thursday. The Columbia River Bar pilot on board the ship was able to safely anchor the vessel outside the shipping channel. The cause of the loss of power was unknown, but the vessel was able to troubleshoot the problem and regain power. A marine inspector has been dispatched to investigate the cause of the mechanical problem and conduct sea trials before determining whether or not the vessel can safely continue to its intended port of call in Portland, Oregon.
High Seas and winds caused a tow line to snap on a 330-foot barge being towed ten miles west of the entrance to the Columbia River Bar. The tug boat MIKI HANA called the Coast Guard to report it had lost control of the barge which was carrying 700,000 pounds of construction materials. The tug requested the Coast Guard’s presence on the scene due to the high danger involved in working in 20 foot seas and high winds. After a three hour battle, the MIKI HANA was reportedly able to regain control of the barge using an Orville Hook. A helicopter crew from Astoria Air Station responded to the MIKI HANA’s call for assistance.
Yesterday, Coastal Villages Region Fund, in a deal with fishing giant American Seafoods, has acquired the 341-foot Alaska pollock factory trawler and three Alaska freezer longliners, the LILLI ANN, NORTH CAPE, and DEEP PACIFIC. In exchange for the vessels and their quota shares, Coastal Villages Region Fund will give up its equity interest in American Seafoods. The Coastal Villages Region Fund had utilized its Community Develop Quota to obtain an equity interest in American Seafoods. The deal for American Seafoods was financed by Bank of America and reportedly involves $750 million in refinancing. Coastal Villages Region Fund has indicated it wishes to move the home port of the NORTHERN HAWK and the other vessel from Seattle to Alaska.
The four vessels employ approximately 200 crewmen during the season. It is unknown how the purchase will impact current crewmen’s jobs.
The 82-foot fishing vessel, Sea Clipper, suddenly rolled and began taking on water Sunday about 13 miles out of Humboldt Bay. The vessel’s fishing gear apparently snagged on the bottom causing the vessel to roll 90 degrees and begin taking on water. The Captain of the vessel immediately issued a May Day call on channel sixteen, setting a Coast Guard rescue effort in motion. The crew of the vessel donned survival suits and launched their survival craft, however, they were able to cut the snagged net free and get the vessel righted. When the Coast Guard arrived on the scene the Sea Clipper’s decks were flooded. With additional pumps provided by the Coast Guard, the Sea Clipper was able to pump out its compartments and start making its way back to Humboldt Bay. Also responding to the May Day call were two good Samaritan vessels, the Lion and the Pacific Ram.
The Coast Guard has rescued two persons from a capsized boat on Fresh Water Bay approximately five miles northwest of Port Angeles. The two people in the water were spotted from shore, and the Coast Guard was called. The Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter and 25 foot response boat to the scene. The two rescued boaters were not wearing life jackets and were reported to have been suffering hypothermia.
A warrant was issued by King County Court for the arrest of Deadliest Catch crewman Jake Harris. One of the stars of the television series about crab fishing in Alaska, Harris, failed to appear in Seattle Court on Wednesday for a hearing related to charges of reckless driving. Previous charges of DUI and hit and run had been dropped against Harris. The lawyer for Harris told reporters for People magazine that the failure to appear for the hearing was a scheduling mistake by Harris. Harris contests the charges against him.
It is important for crewmen on all fishing vessels to clear up any pending legal matters before departing for the fishing season. Failure to appear for trials and hearings can result in arrest warrants being issued and additional charges.
The 102-foot fishing vessel MUIR MILACH has been involved in an oil spill in Squalicum Marina. An estimated 50 gallons of diesel oil were spilled during transfer operations at the Sawtooth dock in Bellingham. A sheen of oil 100-200 yards long was on the water in the marina. Clean up efforts are underway. The Department of ecology warns that one quart of oil has the potential to foul more than 100,000 gallons of water. The MUIR MILACH was involved in a previous oil spill in 2007. The vessel was reportedly fined $7,500 for that incident.
A 23 year old crewman with internal bleeding has been airlifted from the fish processing vessel SEA FISHER. The 230-foot long fishing vessel was about 170 miles north of Dutch Harbor at the time of the incident. A Coast Guard helicopter from Cold Bay was to take the crewman to Dutch Harbor for treatment and evaluation.
Westward Seafoods Inc., a Dutch Harbor seafood processing plant has agreed to pay a $570,000 civil penalty to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act occurring between 2002 and 2006. The EPA complaint against Westward Seafoods alleged improper use and reporting regarding the burning of 1.3 million gallons of diesel fuel and use of 80,000 pounds of ammonia. Under the terms of the settlement, Westward Seafoods will be required to create a preventive maintenance and operation plan, develop and implement an annual training plan for its employees, and develop internal plans for reporting to the federal and local environmental agencies. A spokesman for the EPA stated, “We expect companies that handle hazardous chemicals and operate diesel generators to comply with the law. This settlement is designed to put a system into place that will prevent future violations of the environment and public safety laws.”
Thursday the Pacific Fisheries Management Council adopted a commercial 2010 Chinook salmon seasons for the Washington and Oregon Coasts. Under the proposal, commercial fishermen will be able to harvest 56,000 Chinook salmon north of Cape Falcon and 13,000 marked hatchery Coho. Recreational fishermen will also share in the openings which provide for a total allowable catch of 117,000 Chinook and 80,000 marked hatchery Coho. The limits reflect a higher rate of return for Chinook salmon, while the Coho season is projected to be a down year. Oregon commercial fishermen have not been permitted to harvest Chinook since 2007. The proposal calls for very limited harvest south of Cape Falcon. The Pacific Fisheries Management Council’s decision still needs final approval by NOAA, which is anticipated on May 1st.