Articles Posted in Maritime News & Law

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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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Tillamook-Bay-1024x676A 55-year-old captain was medevaced by the U.S. Coast Guard after he reportedly suffered a heart attack while working aboard the F/V EMERALD SEAS. The vessel was located approximately 20 miles west of Tillamook Bay, Oregon when the incident occurred.

Watchstanders at Sector Columbia River Command Center in Warrenton received the distress call from the vessel, then dispatched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Astoria. A 47-foot motor lifeboat was also dispatched from Station Tillamook Bay in Garibaldi.

The vessel captain reported that he had suffered a heart attack in the past, and was therefore aware of the symptoms, and was able to self-administer Nitrol in response. The captain was transferred to the motor lifeboat before being hoisted by the helicopter to make for a smoother transition. He was then flown to emergency responders at the Tillamook Airport.

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AquacultureThis month a new bill called the Keep Fin Fish Free Act (H.R. 2467) was introduced in response to the growing concerns regarding aquaculture operations. Alaska Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska) introduced legislation that would stop officials from the Secretary of Interior and the Secretary of Commerce from authorizing commercial finfish aquaculture operations in the Federal Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) unless specifically authorized by Congress. This legislation has many supporters across environmental and anti-fish farming organizations including Healthy Gulf, Institute for Fisheries Resources, Friends of the Earth, and NOAA.

The concerns raised regarding these facilities involve pollution spread by untreated wastewater, the spread of pests and diseases to native species, the introduction of even more antibiotics into our waters, and spills like the incident that occurred in August 2017 that resulted in more than 260,000 non-native Atlantic salmon being released into Puget Sound. However, one of the greatest concerns among aquaculture critics is the need to harvest wild fish in order to produce the feed necessary to raise open net pen Atlantic salmon.

“The seafood industry is critical to Alaska’s economy, and we must be doing all we can to protect the health and integrity of our state’s wild fish stock,” said Congressman Don Young. “If not properly managed, industrial aquaculture operations threaten Alaska’s unique ecosystem with non-native and genetically modified fish species. My legislation takes needed steps to prevent the unchecked spread of aquaculture operations by reigning in the federal bureaucracy, and empowering Congress to determine where new aquaculture projects should be conducted. It’s up to us to ensure that our oceans are healthy and pristine, and I urge my friends on both sides of the aisle to join me in this important effort.”

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HandXRayA 22-year-old crewmember who was working aboard the 254-foot F/V PHOENIX was evacuated near La Push, Washington on Tuesday after he sustained a hand injury.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound received the emergency call at approximately 11:28. A boater in the area made the call on behalf of the F/V PHOENIX and reported that the vessel was located about 25 miles west of the Coast Guard Station Quillayute River.

Initially, the Coast Guard Cutter Cuttyhunk and boat crew from Station Quillayute River responded to the call. However, due to rough seas, they were unable to transfer the injured worker aboard the vessel. Winds of 12-knots per mile and 11-foot waves were reported.

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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.

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Kennicott_Alaska_Ferry_Front_View_2048px-300x225In November of 2012, Shannon Adamson suffered life-threatening injuries when the passenger gangway she was standing on collapsed. She fell 18-feet and suffered a shattered pelvis and sacrum, fractures in her lower back, loss of sensation in her right leg, a broken ankle, wrist and ribs, two punctured lungs, a lacerated liver, and a traumatic brain injury. Adamson required extensive surgery after this horrific fall and long painful sessions with a physical therapist just to learn how to walk again.

Court documents revealed that the Port of Bellingham was aware of a defect in the passenger gangway due to a similar accident that occurred in 2008. Engineering safety experts reported that the faulty system could have been resolved, but port authorities failed to install the recommended safety “limit switch”. The device would have cost the port less than $1000.

In the 2016 federal court case, the jury found the Port of Bellingham negligent, and not Adamson or the State of Alaska. Adamson was an employee of the Alaska Marine Highway System, but the court ruled that the defective passenger gangway was owned by the port. On Thursday, April 11th, 2019 the Port of Bellingham lost an appeal when the Washington State Supreme Court agreed with the previous ruling: Commercial landowners are liable for injuries that occur on the property they are responsible for maintaining, even if a tenant has priority to use the property, concluding that the Port of Bellingham must pay a jury’s $16 million verdict to the injured ferry worker.

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CG-Kodiak-Air-Station-300x188Watchstanders at the U.S. Coast Guard 17th District Command Center in Juneau received a call on Monday that a crew member aboard the F/V RESURRECTION was suffering from what appeared to be a heart attack. A medevac was requested request at about 9 p.m.

The 49-foot longline fishing vessel was located approximately 65 miles east of Kodiak when the call was made. An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew launched from Air Station Kodiak, and a rescue swimmer was lowered with a rescue basket, then hoisted the 38-year-old man to the helicopter. He was transported to Air Station Kodiak and placed in the care of EMS personnel, who transported him to Kodiak Providence Hospital.

“We sent a health technician to supplement the in-flight care, along with our standard aircrew members,” said Lt. Cmdr. Orion Bloom, search and rescue mission coordinator for the case. “When we know that a survivor is experiencing symptoms that might benefit from a level of care beyond what our rescue swimmers are trained to provide, we do our best to provide that higher level of care. We wish this man a swift recovery.”

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DestinationMemorialAfter a two-year investigation, the U.S. Coast Guard has released its findings regarding the devastating F/V DESTINATION accident that took the lives of all six crew members aboard the vessel. According to Captain Lee Boone, Chief of Coast Guard Investigations, “It just wasn’t one thing”.

On February 11th, 2017, the crew of the Seattle-based crab boat, DESTINATION set off into the Bering Sea with a stability report that was more than 20 years old, an exhausted crew, and freezing spray and ice that overloaded the vessel.

“Since 1993, some changes had been made to the vessel,” Captain Boone said. “Those should have been incorporated into updated stability instructions that the master could follow.”

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ShipHull12-300x150The Jones Act or Maritime Law requires that vessels moving goods between U.S. ports are owned and operated by U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Vessels are also required to be built in the U.S. by companies owned and operated by U.S citizens or permanent residents. The Jones Act requires that the steel used in the construction of a vessel be domestic, and that no more than 1.5 percent of the vessels “steel weight” be foreign processed. So, what happens when a vessel exceeds the limit? This is exactly what happened when Dakota Creek Industries, a 44-year-old family owned shipbuilding company in Anacortes, Washington, self-reported that the F/V AMERICA’S FINEST had indeed exceeded that limit.

The Kirkland, Washington based fishing company, Fisherman’s Finest, contracted a Norwegian company to design a new 264-foot trawler for the company. The vessel design required a steel-bending process that is more common and less expensive when fabricated in Europe. Just under 10 percent of the steel for the vessel was formed in the Netherlands. The vessel carries a $75 million price tag.

“Fishermen are key drivers of Washington state’s growing economy. We need their boats out fishing, not bogged down by regulations meant for large vessels like oil tankers,” said Cantwell.

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Coast-Guard-Rescue1200-300x22542,000 active-duty U.S. Coast Guard members have missed their first paycheck due to the government shutdown. Coast Guard members are continuing to work without pay on essential duties “that provide for national security or that protect life and property during partial government shutdowns,” such as securing U.S. ports and coastlines, search-and-rescue missions, and environmental events.

Active-duty personnel who work in other branches of the military continue to receive pay as they are funded by the Department of Defense, which continues to receive funding during a partial government shutdown. However, the U.S. Coast Guard falls under Homeland Security, one of the nine departments affected by the shutdown. Others include the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Interior, the Department of State, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Justice. The Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, and the Smithsonian have all shut down as they are under the umbrella of one of the nine department closures.

On January 4th, a bipartisan bill was introduced in Congress called the Pay Our Coast Guard Act. It would allow members of the U.S. Coast Guard as well as its civilian employees and contractors to be paid throughout the shutdown. The bill which is sponsored by Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio, and has support from 29 Democrats and 10 Republicans. South Carolina Congressman Joe Cunningham cosponsored the bill.