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Nylon-Nets-300x225It is estimated that our oceans hold 640,000 tons of discarded fishing gear. This “Ghost Gear” refers to any fishing gear that has been abandoned, lost, or discarded, often due to severe weather and other circumstances. Old nylon nets often end up in landfills, but more likely end up in our oceans where large sea creatures such as dolphins, sea lions, whales, and sea turtles can get tangled. According to a study by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050 if we continue to discard plastics, nets, and gear at this rate.

Under the Healthy Seas initiative, organizations and companies are working together to come up with innovative ways to recycle this cast-off plastic and nylon material to create usable and sustainable apparel, soft goods, and building materials.

Aquafil is an Italian based textile company that recently opened its first U.S. based recycling facility in Phoenix, Arizona. Old carpets and fishing nets are broken down into nylon that is then shipped to their Slovenian processing facility. Through a process called ‘Depolymerisation’, the Italian firm turns salvaged and collected fishing nets into a unique yarn that can be used to make consumer goods.

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HandXRay-300x262Allan Tabingo was injured at sea due to defective machinery on his employer’s fishing vessel.  A hydraulic lever controlling a fish hatch had been defective for two years. When the hatch operator tried to activate the hydraulic lever to stop the hatch from closing, the handle on the lever popped out of the valve. The hatch could not be stopped.  The result was a traumatic hand injury and the loss of a father’s livelihood. The accident could have been prevented had American Seafoods simply repaired the handle when it was found to be defective two years earlier.

On January 17, 2017, lawyers in the case of Allan Tabingo vs. American Triumph LLC argued in the Washington State Supreme Court the question of whether an injured seaman may recover punitive damages when injured on an unseaworthy vessel?  You can view the arguments here. Originally denied at the trial court, this case was chosen for a fast track (“interlocutory”) appeal and sent to the Washington State Supreme Court due to the importance of this issue for injured fishermen and seamen.

The Jones Act and Maritime Law already provide for Compensatory Damages.  An injured seaman may recover a monetary amount necessary to replace what was lost due to his/her injury. Compensatory Damages usually cover:

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Friday, The United States Coast Guard placed limitations on the movement of deep draft vessels across the Coos Bay Harbor entrance. The action came following the capsizing of the SARA JO on the Coos bay bar last week.   One crewman died in the sinking of the 49 foot SARA JO, and two men are reported injured.  The Coast Guard has cautioned all vessels navigating in the Coos Bay bar area to keep a sharp lookout for possible wreckage and debris.  The cause of the SARA JO loss is under investigation by the Coast Guard.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics issued a new report last month calculating and ranking the most dangerous jobs in the United States; the top three are fishermen, loggers, and aircraft pilots. In 2009, “fishers and related fishing workers” died as a result of injuries at their workplace at a rate of 200 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, which is 60 times greater than the average American workforce, 3.3 deaths per 100,000. In a distant second and third, the fatality rate for loggers was 61.8 per 100,000 and 57.1 per 100,000 for aircraft pilots.
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The ARCTIC DAWN caught fire while moored in Ballard early Monday morning. The 100 foot Alaska crab boat had been previously featured on the Deadliest Catch television series. One crewman was aboard the vessel at the time and was able to escape the fire without injury. Nearly one hundred firemen responded to the three alarm fire. The fire involved the superstructure of the vessel but did not appear to affect the lower decks. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.

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Four crewmen have been rescued after their Alaska fishing boat caught fire on Sunday. The 52-foot longliner NAKAT from Kodiak caught fire about 80 miles southwest of Kodiak. The crew was unable to issue a mayday message before abandoning ship into the vessel’s life raft. The Coast Guard was alerted to the accident after receiving an EPIRB message from the vessel and immediately dispatched a rescue helicopter. The crew was located several miles away from the burning vessel and hoisted to safety. The cause of the fire is under investigation. This case again demonstrates the importance of the EPIRB and the role it plays in saving fishermen’s lives in Alaska.