Articles Posted in Maritime News & Law

Published on:


Spring Chinook Salmon. Photo courtesy Michael Humling, US Fish & Wildlife Service

Salmon fishing in the federal waters of Cook Inlet will restart this summer with a shift in management to the federal government, as finalized in a recent ruling. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), a branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is assuming control over salmon management in the inlet waters categorized as the federal exclusive economic zone, extending beyond 3 miles offshore. This new regulation becomes effective on May 30th.

Up until this point, the state had overseen salmon fisheries in both state and federal waters of the inlet. However, due to a decade-long legal battle, federal courts mandated a shift in management. The United Cook Inlet Drift Association (UCIDA), comprising commercial salmon fishermen, initiated legal action against the federal government in 2013, alleging a failure to formulate a salmon harvest management plan for the federal waters of the inlet. Instead of crafting a specific plan for Cook Inlet salmon, the National Marine Fisheries Service had relied on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, which historically managed salmon harvests across the inlet in both state and federal waters since statehood.

Published on:

Tanner_Crab-300x200An indictment from a federal grand jury in Alaska has been issued, accusing the owner and captains of two crab catcher vessels of unlawfully transporting crab from Alaska, a violation of the Lacey Act.

According to legal documents, Corey Potter is identified as the owner of two fishing vessels. Justin Welch and Kyle Potter serve as the captains. Between February and March of 2024, these vessels amassed a haul exceeding 7,000 pounds of Tanner and golden king crab in Southeast Alaska. Corey Potter allegedly instructed Kyle Potter and Justin Welch to transport the crab to Seattle, Washington, in an effort to fetch a higher price than that which could be obtained in Alaska. Neither captain docked the harvested crab at an Alaskan port, failing to document the harvest on a fish ticket, as mandated by state law.

Reportedly, the crab was transported through Canadian and Washington waters. Upon reaching Washington, a significant portion of the king crab was discovered to be dead or unsuitable for sale. Corey Potter purportedly admitted that some of the crab on board was afflicted with Bitter Crab Syndrome (BCS), a fatal parasitic disease affecting crustaceans. An additional 4,000 pounds of Tanner crab was allegedly disposed of due to the risk of BCS contamination. Legal documents contend that had the crab been correctly landed in Alaska, the harvest would have been inspected, and infected crab would have been identified and discarded before departing from Alaska.

Published on:


Last week, Nigel Stacey and Joe Stacey, partners at Stacey and Jacobsen, PLLC, were honored to serve as judges for the esteemed 31st Annual Judge John R. Brown Admiralty Moot Court Competition.

This annual competition hosted 32 law school teams from across the country to deliver arguments on issues pertaining to maritime law. The event honors Judge John R. Brown, renowned for his service as a distinguished admiralty judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Other volunteers in this competition have included federal judges, prominent members of the maritime bar, presidents and past presidents of the Maritime Law Association of the United States, as well as admiralty professors.

Published on:

Kodiak-Harbor-from-the-Glacier-Bay-300x219Stacey and Jacobsen, PLLC is pleased to announce that Senate Bill 93 sailed through the Alaska House with a resounding 39-1 majority, with only Representative David Eastman, R-Wasilla, in opposition. This legislation, championed by the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee and several other organizations, raises the caps on compensation from the Alaska Fisherman’s Fund for injuries and illness sustained by commercial fishermen. Its passage strengthens the assurance that medical expenses from fishing-related accidents are better addressed for crew members.

“I think it’s crucial that we support hard working Alaskans, especially when they’ve become ill or injured on the job and need money from funds that they have paid into,” said Senate Labor and Commerce Committee Chair Jesse Bjorkman R-Nikiski. “Commercial fishermen will have greater financial support from the Alaska Fisherman’s Fund when they file a claim with no cost to the State, because the Fisherman’s Fund dollars come from fees received from commercial fishing license sales.”

The Fishermen’s Fund was established in 1951. The fund provides medical treatment and care for licensed commercial fishermen who sustain injuries while working in fishing activities in Alaska. Whether offshore or onshore, fishermen are covered while on active crew status.

Published on:

Ilwaco_Fire-300x225On Monday, January 22nd, 2023, at about 11 AM, calls flooded 911 dispatchers with reports of a blaze at the Ilwaco Landing Cannery. The Ilwaco Fire Department, headed by Fire Chief Jeff Archer, promptly responded to the distress calls. The fire originated on the Ilwaco Landing wharf, situated over Baker Bay waters near the mouth of the Columbia River.

The blaze engulfed nearly all structures on the Ilwaco Landing wharf, including the cannery building, crab pots, vehicles parked on the dock, and the dock itself. The fire resulted in a complete and total loss.

The 2024 Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishing Season begins this week on February 1st, which means the crabbing fleet was busy staging for their season. Approximately 8,500 commercial crab pots, equipped with ropes and licenses, were assembled on the dock in anticipation.

Published on:

Maine-Lighthouse-300x168Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Dan Sullivan (R-AL), and Edward Markey (D-MA) have spearheaded a bipartisan initiative by introducing the FISH Wellness Act, aimed at enhancing safety, health, and well-being in the fishing industry. This proposed legislation aims to expand upon the successes of the Commercial Fishing Occupational Safety Research & Training Program. It seeks to tackle a spectrum of occupational hazards encountered by fishermen, including worker fatigue and substance use disorders. The act will boost funding for the program, making research and training grants more attainable by removing match requirements.

During the Pacific Marine Expo this year, a coalition of commercial fishing industry professionals convened to deliberate on approaches to tackle the mental health concerns among commercial fishermen. Across generations, individuals have dealt indirectly with mental health challenges, prompting the newer generation to advocate for a more straightforward approach; talking openly about and resolving mental health issues.

“Providing our next generation of fishermen and women with the mental health and substance abuse care that they need is vital to the success of our industry,” said Andrea Tomlinson, founder and executive director of New England Young Fishermen’s Alliance. “Commercial fishing is the second most dangerous job in the US after logging, and these workers require extra mental and behavioral health support due to the strenuous and challenging conditions of this valuable trade.”

Published on:

Saftety-Check-300x172The U.S. Coast Guard is issuing a reminder to commercial fishermen to make certain that they have appropriate lifesaving gear on their vessels prior to leaving the dock.

Several U.S. Coast Guard teams carried out inspections on commercial fishing vessels navigating the Chesapeake Bay area and its tributaries between December 1st and 7th. This operation was strategically aimed at verifying observance of safety regulations by the commercial fishing fleet.

“Operating in the maritime environment can be dangerous, particularly in colder weather,” said Capt. Jennifer Stockwell, commander, Coast Guard Sector Virginia. “Having the appropriate lifesaving equipment onboard will dramatically improve a mariner’s chance of survival if they find themselves in distress.”

Published on:

Conception-300x153On the afternoon of November 6th, 2023, a federal court jury in Los Angeles found Jerry Nehl Boylan, the captain of the M/V CONCEPTION, guilty of gross negligence in the tragic maritime incident that claimed the lives of 34 individuals.

The M/V CONCEPTION, a 75-foot vessel, caught fire on Monday, September 2, 2019 while anchored. The fire swiftly engulfed the boat, resulting in its sinking and the tragic loss of 34 lives. Five crew members, including Boylan, managed to escape and survive.

Throughout the trial, prosecutors presented evidence and contended that Boylan, displayed negligence by failing to initiate a night watch or roving patrol, insufficient fire drills, poor crew training, and neglected to provide firefighting instructions or utilize available firefighting equipment. This evidence highlighted a series of failures on the part of Captain Boylan that significantly contributed to this tragedy. Boylan, who was responsible for the safety and security of the vessel, its passengers, and its crew, has been found guilty of his failures.

Published on:

New_Commander_Coast_Guard-300x200On June 15th, the U.S. Coast Guard Base Seattle celebrated the change of command ceremony hosted by U.S. Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound.

During the event, Capt. Mark McDonnell assumed command of Sector Puget Sound, relieving Capt. Patrick Hilbert from his position as the commander.

The ceremony was overseen by Rear Admiral Mel Bouboulis, who serves as the commander of the 13th U.S. Coast Guard District. This district is responsible for overseeing Sector Puget Sound, which encompasses the Pacific Coast of Washington State to the eastern border of Montana. Sector Puget Sound is also responsible for managing a 125-mile maritime international boundary with Canada as well as maintaining relationships with Tribal Nations.

Published on:

PacificProducer-300x181The 77- year-old F/V PACIFIC PRODUCER, which operates in the waters of the Pacific, has recently come under scrutiny due to numerous violations and safety issues. The 169-foot long vessel has been docked in Tacoma on the Foss Waterway since August of 2022, after smashing into a private pier. As concerns over the safety of the men and women who work in the fishing industry mount, it is crucial to shed light on the alleged wrongdoings surrounding this vessel. Accountability and improved practices within the fishing industry are imperative.

Labor Issues

A joint investigation by OSHA and the U.S. Coast Guard found the crew living in deplorable conditions while working for an operator with a history of workplace violations. The F/V PACIFIC PRODUCER has been implicated in labor violations. Several crew members have come forward, alleging harsh working conditions, long hours, inadequate safety measures, and unfair wages. These reports highlight the exploitation faced by workers onboard the vessel.

Contact Information