Articles Posted in Maritime News

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WashingtonStatePilotageThe 150-year anniversary of the Washington Pilotage Act was celebrated last week at the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, Washington. Elected officials Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, Kevin Van De Wege and Mayor Deborah Stinson were all in attendance.

Mayor Stinson welcomed all pilots to the Northwest Maritime Center and praised them for their leadership in safeguarding our state’s maritime economy as well as the environmental health of our waterways.

According to historian Alice Alexander, the original pilotage program was created in 1868 by a territorial act. It was later repealed, then replaced with the Puget Sound Pilots organization, which requires all foreign vessels traveling in the Puget Sound and adjacent waters that engaged in foreign trade, have professional piloting services. This requirement was initiated to protect Puget Sound waterways against loss of life, loss or damage to vessels or property, and to protect the environment.

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Coast-Guard-Adrift-300x225Four mariners required a U. S. Coast Guard rescue when their 48-foot F/V Soulmate became disabled, adrift, and unable to anchor. Watchstanders received the initial distress call from the vessel via VHF radio, but reception was so unreliable that the use of a satellite phone was required.

“This case highlights the importance of having multiple means of communications,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Taylor, a Sector Anchorage watchstander. “The availability of both a VHF radio and a satellite phone on board the vessel allowed for consistent communication with the master providing up to date information and situational reports.”

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Naushon responded to the disabled fishing vessel, located about 57 miles west of Kodiak Island and just south of Shelikof Strait. The Coast Guard Naushon crew towed the four crewmembers of the F/V Soulmate to the south side of Kodiak Island. The mariners took refuge at the Lazy Bay cannery in Alitak Bay.

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The-Bering-SeaA 55-year-old fisherman has died after sustaining internal injuries aboard the F/V Ocean Hunter. The 95-foot trawler is owned by Tacoma based Alaska Weathervane Seafoods, LLC. The vessel had been fishing for cod in the Bering Sea at the time of the incident.

According to The Alaska State Troopers’ dispatch, two vessels were tied together in open sea to facilitate a fish transfer. Christopher O’Callaghan was working on the deck when a slack line went taut and struck him in the chest. The bruising and internal injuries from the line resulted in his death. The official report also notes that several crewmembers witnessed the tragic incident. His body was transported to the state medical examiner, and authorities are continuing to investigate.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. O’Callaghan’s family and friends and all who worked beside him. He will be honored at the Fisherman’s Memorial Ceremony on May 27, 2018.

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GMO-SalmonLast week, the Food and Drug Administration approved a supplemental New Animal Drug Application (NADA) submitted by AquaBounty Technologies, Inc. While the original application was approved in 2015, this current application grants AquaBounty Technologies, Inc. the right to raise a GMO salmon species it has developed called AquAdvantage salmon at their farming facility near Albany, Indiana. The facility uses growth tanks rather than ocean pens and will be able to grow 1,200 tons of GMO salmon per year. The facility was designed so it can be expanded quickly to meet higher levels of demand for the new product.

As soon as the FDA and Department of Agriculture agree on guidelines for consumer labeling of the genetically engineered AquAdvantage salmon, the company will be allowed to import the genetically modified eggs from their facilities in Canada and Panama, where the company currently genetically engineers its eggs. The eggs will then be grown and sold in the U.S. market.

According to an FDA report, AquAdvantage salmon is a genetically-engineered fish that can reach market growth more rapidly than nonmodified farm-raised Atlantic salmon. The fish are able to grow quickly because they contain DNA composed of the growth hormone gene found in Chinook salmon under the control of a gene from another species of fish called an Ocean Pout, which keeps the Chinook growth hormone gene switched on. This creates a fish that can grow to market weight in 18- to 20-months vs. the 28- to 36-month period it takes to grow farm-raised Atlantic salmon. Wild salmon growth rates vary widely depending on the species.

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Fishermen_with_their_halibutThe 2018 Pacific halibut season is set to begin at noon on Saturday, March 24nd, but the U.S. and Canada have failed to reach consensus on limits for the first time since 1990. Both countries have endorsed a quota cut.

The IPHC (The International Pacific Halibut Commission) is an intergovernmental organization that was established between Canada and the U. S. in 1923 to monitor and maintain Pacific halibut stocks at sustainable levels. The organization is recommending limits slightly lower than those of 2017. While research indicates a slight decline in stocks, Pacific halibut continue to remain at healthy levels.

When an agreement can’t be reached, quotas from the previous year are used until new limits can be set. The U.S. and Canada did agree that catch limits should be lower than the 2017 numbers. Through a domestic Interim Final Rule established by NOAA Fisheries, the U.S. is implementing catch limits that are in line with those proposed at the IPHC board meetings.

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SkyTruth_Fleets-1024x521As the world’s demand for seafood continues to rise, new methods for tracking global commercial fishing activities are imperative. In a groundbreaking study published in the journal Science, some extraordinary data are showing how fishing vessels are covering the world’s oceans, and which countries are bringing in the biggest catches.

Much of the data in the study was gathered by Global Fishing Watch, a partnership between Oceana, SkyTruth, and Google. The organization uses high-tech satellite images and AIS (Automatic Identification Systems) to monitor, record, and track the movement of fishing vessels around the globe. In the past, this data was collected using logbooks, observers in fishing ports, and electronic vessel tracking. Despite its suggestive nature, this information was often out of date, incomplete, and inaccurate.

The accuracy of the newer methods is connected to the massive amounts of data collected between 2012 and 2016. Over 22 billion AIS messages were logged, identifying more than 70,000 vessels. Computers running sophisticated software programs searched for patterns in the large data sets. They were able to match vessels to fleet registries and track vessel movements. Computer algorithms were also used to determine when a vessel was fishing and what it was fishing for. For instance, the data collected in 2016 reveals that of the vessels tracked, over 40 million hours were spent at sea and the vessels traveled approximately 460 million kilometers.

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https://www.maritimeinjurylawyersblog.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/155/2018/02/U.S.-Coast-Guard-Helicopter-300x163.jpgThe North Coast commercial crab season is off to an arduous start, as the U.S. Coast Guard oversaw two search-and-rescue missions this weekend. The search for one missing crabber who fell overboard has sadly been suspended.

Shortly after 1 a.m. on Sunday, February 4th, two crew members who were tending crab pots on the Chief Joseph fell overboard. The vessel was approximately eight miles south of the South Spit in Humboldt Bay when the accident occurred. The captain successfully pulled one fisherman back aboard but was unable to locate the other crewmember.

First on the scene was an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Humboldt Bay followed by a 47-foot Motor Lifeboat crew from Station Humboldt Bay. Approximately an hour later, a C-27 Spartan fixed-wing aircraft from Air Station Sacramento arrived, and the area was combed until the search was suspended at approximately 1:15 p.m.

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Broken-Lobster-Pot1200x636A new bill is on the way to the Maine State Legislature, and if Representative Mick Devin can get approval next year, a new task force of healthcare professionals and community leaders will work on one of the state of Maine’s greatest maritime issues; opioid drug abuse and addiction.

As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collect more data, it is reported that approximately 60,000 Americans died in 2016 from opioid overdose, almost a 100% increase over 2015, with 33,000 confirmed deaths. Nearly half of those involved prescription opioids. The same report concludes that among the deaths that involved Fentanyl, the Northeast states of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island were among the highest in the nation. While there are currently no statistics by occupation, this is an issue that often hits the fishing industry hard.

The opioid crisis is especially complicated for people who work at sea. The work is physically demanding. Long hours of physical labor can cause severe pain, and injuries that are not allowed time to heal may become chronic. Fishermen are often at sea for weeks at a time or work in very remote locations away from healthcare. When healthcare is available, and opioids prescribed, the medication often runs out while workers are at sea. If pain is still present, workers may seek to utilize other options.

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Crab_fishing_boatThe overall safety of the commercial fishing industry is becoming safer every year. Those are the findings in a report issued by NIOSH in July of 2017. However, experts agree that an area that needs improvement concerns outdated stability reports. The US Coast Guard requires all fishing and crabbing vessels to carry a stability report which has been prepared by a Naval Architect. Problems arise when these reports are out of date.

According to A Best Practices Guide to Vessel Stability published by the US Coast Guard, vessel stability is defined as “the ability of a fishing vessel to return to its upright position after being heeled over by any combination of wind, waves, or forces from fishing operations.” If a vessel is “unstable”, it does not have sufficient ability to counter these external forces, therefore it is susceptible to capsizing.

The two variables in the stability equation are buoyancy and gravity. Buoyancy is the force acting to push the vessel up in the water, making the vessel float. In stability analysis, the total buoyancy forces are distributed over the part of the hull below the water, and the buoyancy of a vessel is a fixed variable as it is based on the architecture of the vessel. Gravity is the force acting to pull the vessel down in the water. The total weight of the vessel includes all gear, fuel, catch, ice, bait, etc. These weights are distributed throughout the hull, and mathematically combined into a single point called the center of gravity. Because weight is constantly being added and subtracted from a vessel, gravity is not a fixed variable; it is constantly in flux.

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Rolls-Royce-Fishing-Vessel-1024x536At the Google Cloud Summit in Stockholm, Sweden, Rolls-Royce announced that it will be applying Google’s Cloud Machine Learning Engine to power autonomous ships. The technology will be used to detect, identify, and track surface objects that vessels encounter while at sea to make the maritime industry safer and more efficient.

Rolls-Royce senior vice president for ship intelligence, Karno Tenovuo, said “While intelligent awareness systems will help to facilitate an autonomous future, they can benefit maritime businesses right now making vessels and their crews safer and more efficient. By working with Google Cloud, we can make these systems better, faster, saving lives.”

Eva Fors, Head of Google Cloud Sales Nordics said, “By exploring the possibilities presented by machine learning, Rolls-Royce can combine the latest technology advancements with its deep knowledge of the maritime industry, ultimately bringing significant improvements to the sector.”