July 3, 2017
Full loads of fish and heavy weather resulted in four Bristol Bay fishing boats reported to have swamped on Monday. The Coast Guard released news that four vessels were partially submerged in Nushagak Bay. One of the vessels reported to be involved is the F/V Ketok. Crewmembers from the vessels were rescued by other nearby fishing vessels. There were no reported injuries and the cause of the incidents is under investigation by the Coast Guard.
The incidents happened during a surge in the sockeye salmon run. Processors in the area reported a dramatic increase in deliveries on Monday after several weeks of declining catch. Heavily loaded vessels in rough seas can be a recipe for disaster. The race for catching the fish presents a short window of opportunity for Bristol Bay fishermen and when that window of opportunity mixes with bad weather the risks increase. Monday’s weather conditions were less than optimal with winds of 40 miles per hour.
The environmental impact of the vessel’s swamping is uncertain. At this time no fisheries have been closed and the Coast Guard is accessing the potential impact. An oil sheen was noted in the area of one of the stricken vessels. At least one fish buyer has declined catch from the area as a precautionary measure.