Coast Guard ensures safety of marine operators in remote Northwestern Alaska


Checking safety gear

Petty Officer 2nd Class Alex Olbert checks safety equipment aboard one many fishing vessels examined by the Coast Guard in Northwestern Alaska Monday, Sept. 17, 2012. The examiners from Sector Anchorage met with more than 50 fishermen from Nome, Koyuk, Golovin and Unalakleet. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

By Ensign Victoria Stockton

Coast Guard examiners conducted dockside safety exams in the remote communities of Nome, Golovin, Koyuk and Unalakleet Sept. 17 to 21.

Lt. j.g. Ryan Butler, Petty Officer 2nd Class Alex Olbert and Petty Officer 2nd Class William Russell met with more than 50 commercial fishermen from these unique and isolated villages, inspected their vessels, educated them on the regulations and stressed the importance of water safety and proper use of their safety equipment. The total combined population of these communities is less than 5,000 and they are dependent on the maritime sector for their livelihoods. In all, the team identified more than 200 safety concerns that were either corrected on the spot or are being addressed before the vessels get underway again, ensuring the fishermen’s safety at sea.

Additionally, the team conducted two harbor patrols in Nome, conducted gold dredge safety outreach and discussed water safety with local school children. While in Nome they also discovered and stopped an accidental discharge of fuel oil into the harbor from a gold dredging vessel. The operator was issued a letter of warning.

“It was great for us to get to visit some of the more isolated villages,” said Butler. “Most of these communities have had limited interaction with the Coast Guard, so it was a valuable opportunity for us to create a relationship with them and to ensure they had a good understanding of the standards for recreational and commercial vessel safety and operations.”

The Coast Guard reminds all mariners who fish commercially and operate more than three nautical miles from the territorial sea baseline to have a dockside safety exam conducted aboard their vessel in advance of the Oct. 16 mandatory compliance date. To schedule an exam contact Ken Lawrenson at the Coast Guard 17th District in Juneau at 907-463-2810 or the nearest Coast Guard sector or marine safety office.

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