Articles Posted in Maritime News

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SockeySalmon-300x172Alaska biologists have forecasted another massive run of sockeye salmon this summer in Bristol Bay. Processors are being urged by the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association to gear up for the surge. It has been found that boosting capacity helps returns on future runs.

According to state records, 66 million salmon returned to Bristol Bay last year and approximately 40 million were harvested and processed. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has predicted that more than 75 million salmon will return to Bristol Bay rivers this summer. According to the agency, about 60 million fish will be harvested by commercial fisheries, about 20 million more than last year.

The industry concern is that fishers and processors may not be able to keep up. Harvesting and delivering this large quantity of fish means gearing up with workers, and companies have been short staffed. Finding enough workers has been complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic and challenges with the federal H-2B visa program, which is often the source of commercial fishing workers. Last month, the U.S. Departments of Labor and Homeland security committed to adding 35,000 nonagricultural worker visas, in an effort to ease the shortage of tourism and fishing workers.

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Glory-300x166Two fishermen were rescued by the US Coast Guard on Monday February 7th near Sitka, Alaska after the 40-foot F/V GLORY began taking on water.

Sector Juneau Command Center watchstanders received a call from the distressed vessel at about 8 p.m. An Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and crew were launched and directed to the vessel at Islet Passage, approximately nine miles south of Sitka.

The US Coast Guard aircrew lowered a rescue swimmer onto the vessel to evaluate the situation. Crewmembers were unable to locate the source of the flooding, so it was advised that the fishermen abandon ship. US Coast Guard aircrew successfully hoisted the two fishermen at about 9 p.m.

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image005-300x209On January 21st, 2022, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo announced that her office has approved Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s request for an official disaster determination.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) funds will be available to fishermen and crew members, seafood processors, and researchers who have felt the impact of this difficult season. The amount of the relief package will be determined at a later date. It is possible that some fishery related businesses will also be eligible for aid from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“Helping communities to bounce back from the impacts of fishery disasters is essential, and we are working to ensure there is relief coming for impacted Alaskans,” Raimondo said in a statement. “Disasters like these, which impact multiple fisheries across Alaska, illustrate how vital sustainable fisheries are to our economy at not only the local level, but for the economic health of our nation’s blue economy.”

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Foss-Tug-300x150The Seattle Foss shipyard located at 660 West Ewing Street in North Queen Anne, has permanently closed, and all operations have ceased. The 115 displaced shipyard employees will continue to receive salary and benefits and an average of overtime wages until the end of 2021, according to the company.

This arrangement is in line with the requirements of the federal WARN Act, which requires most companies with 100 or more employees, provide 60 days’ notice of a closure. An employer who violates WARN provisions is liable to each employee for an amount equal to back pay and benefits for the period of the violation, up to 60 days.

The shipyard was responsible for new ship construction in addition to vessel repair and maintenance. Lifts, cranes, and other equipment made the shipyard uniquely equipped to work on ships up to 2,000 tons. The Lake Washington Ship Canal location also included three dry docks.

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Wheel-300x150We are pleased to report that Maritime High School will open its doors to the first class of 9th graders this fall. The school is in Des Moines, Washington, just south of Seattle. Students from across the Puget Sound region with an interest in maritime careers will have the unique opportunity to learn from leaders and mentors who work and serve in maritime fields. This first class of students will graduate in 2025.

Young people who are interested in maritime careers will have the opportunity to engage in innovative and targeted learning objectives featuring skill based and knowledge based learning. Whether students enter the work force right after high school or go on to community college or university, they will possess the tools necessary for success. Through internships and partnerships with local businesses, student learning will focus on marine science, maritime careers (any type of work on or near the water), and maritime environmental issues.

The school will take advantage of new technology to offer a hybrid learning environment. A robust curriculum has been developed in which students will learn in the classroom, online, and in the field at least twice weekly. Technology is at the forefront of all that Seattle Maritime High School offers; all students will be provided with a laptop and essential software. Opportunities to earn college credit will also be readily available. Maritime High School will be administered by the Highline Public School district.

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FaceMasks12x6-300x150The fishing and maritime industries have been hit hard by COVID-19 as outbreaks have swiftly traveled through vessels and processers. No one knows for certain how an individual will respond to the virus; many show no signs of illness but may be highly contagious. Others become so ill they require hospitalization, and many develop long-term medical conditions as a result of the illness. Every aspect of the seafood supply chain has been distressed by the pandemic, especially for those who work in fishing and processing.

To reduce the transmission of COVID-19, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has issued an emergency order requiring all persons “traveling on conveyances into and within the United States” to wear a face mask. But how does this affect the fishing and maritime industries?

U.S. Coast Guard has been granted the authority to implement public health measures consistent with the CDC guidelines at seaports (e.g., passenger terminals, cargo handling facilities, and other shoreside facilities that provide transportation of persons or cargo). The CDC mask requirement has been interpreted by the U.S. Coast Guard to apply to “all forms of commercial maritime vessels,” including cargo ships, fishing vessels, research vessels, and self-propelled barges.  The Marine Safety Information Bulletin states that all persons working or traveling on commercial vessels are required to “wear a face mask or cloth face covering when outside of individual cabins.”

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Vaccine12x6-300x150The world watched today as the first COVID-19 vaccine was administered in Coventry, England. The recipient was Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old grandmother. With several vaccines becoming available in the weeks ahead, the next question is who will be included in the first phase of distribution?

Fishing and maritime industries have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. The rapid spread in processing facilities both on land and at sea has been devastating for workers and processors. Distribution and transportation disruption, border restrictions, and a change in the demand for fresh seafood due to restaurant closures and event cancellations are just a few of the many hardships the industry has faced.

Last week, the CDC advisory council recommended that those who work in the food and agriculture sectors be among the next wave of vaccinations. Priority for the first round of vaccinations will be given to health care and long-term care facility workers. This distribution is being called “Phase 1a”. It has been recommended that the next wave include first responders, educators, transportation workers, and food and agricultural workers (which includes fishermen and seafood processors). This group will be called “Phase 1b”.

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Coast-Guard-MH-60-Jayhawk-300x169A 22-year-old crewmember was medevaced on August 8th after experiencing medical complications due to pregnancy. The crewmember was working aboard the F/V NORTHERN JAEGER, a 308-foot factory trawler owned by American Seafoods.

An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew was dispatched after District 17 Command Center personnel in Alaska received the call for assistance on Saturday morning.

The F/V NORTHERN JAEGER was located about 200 miles northeast of St. Paul, Alaska at the time of the call. U.S. Coast Guard personnel arrived at the vessel at approximately 2:45 p.m., and the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew hoisted and transported the crewmember to Cold Bay, Alaska. She was then transferred to a higher level of medical care.

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Kodiak_AK-300x225A fisherman was injured on Monday, July 20th while working aboard the F/V RUBICON. The U.S. Coast Guard command center in Anchorage, Alaska received a call at approximately 12:45 p.m. from the wife of the fishing vessel’s master, informing officials that a medevac was needed for an injured crew member. The vessel was located just north of Kodiak Island at the time of the incident.

An Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter stationed at the District 17 command center was launched, then landed on a nearby beach at about 1:42 p.m. The fisherman was transferred from the 42-foot F/V RUBICON to the awaiting helicopter crew via small boat. The injured crewmember was then medevaced to awaiting emergency medical personnel in Kodiak.

“This was a very quick case,” said Lt. Jared Carbajal, the aircraft commander on the case. “Good communications from the boat, excellent flexibility and the captain’s expert seamanship enabled a very quick pick-up and transfer of the injured fisherman to medical care.”

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Alaska-Iceberg1200x600Approximately 110 crewmembers from three American Seafoods ships have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The F/V NORTHERN JAEGER is docked at the Seattle cruise ship terminal while sick crew members recover. Others are in quarantine after exposure, many in Seattle area hotels. As of today, the F/V AMERICAN TRIUMPH, and F/V AMERICAN DYNASTY have reportedly returned to fishing.

American Seafoods CEO, Mikel Durham, reported that all workers were tested for Covid-19 before they boarded vessels and all crew members were quarantined for a minimum of 5 days, a much shorter period than the recommended 14 days. In a press release dated May 30th, 2020, American Seafoods announced that after COVID-19 outbreaks on three of their vessels they had adopted the recommended 14-day quarantine.

Pandemic safety measures intended for the fishing industry differ from state to state. In Washington, guidelines are recommended, but companies may choose to ignore them or create their own. In the Alaska Protection Plan for Independent Commercial Fishing Harvesters dated May 15, 2020, Governor Mike Dunleavy mandated that all people arriving in Alaska, including residents, workers, and visitors, are required to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival in the state.

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