Bristol Bay, Alaska (KINY) - Coast Guard inspectors returned to Anchorage Friday after a two-week deployment to Bristol Bay.
While the Coast Guard was there conducting missions in support of the region's commercial fishing season that kicked off Thursday, law enforcement teams will remain to conduct safety boardings and enforce laws on the water.
Inspectors conducted a total of 372 dockside examinations of commercial fishing vessels in multiple communities within the region, including, but not limited to King Salmon, Dillingham, Naknek, South Naknek, Pilot Point, Ugashik, Platinum, Port Heiden, Levelock and Egegik.
Examiners addressed safety issues that were present but did not issue fines or other penalties for any discrepancies they discovered at the dock. The exams focused on safety and addressed items such as flares, charts, navigational signals, fire extinguishers, emergency position indicating radio beacons and the serviceability of immersion suits. Each vessel that passed a dockside exam earned a decal.
"These examinations were free, took about half an hour, ensured compliance with all federal regulations and reduced the likelihood of having a safety-related issue and/or getting boarded at sea," said Russ Hazlett, fishing vessel safety examiner from Sector Anchorage.
"We relied on the Civil Air Patrol for transportation during this deployment," said Lt. Cmdr. Jereme Altendorf, an emergency management specialist at Sector Anchorage. "While in these remote communities of Western Alaska, we also inspected bulk fuel facilities. Despite the pandemic this year, the Bristol Bay salmon fishery is still open, remote communities are still using fuel and oil spills are still a threat. We're doing everything we can to prevent accidents while at the same time preventing the spread of COVID-19."
Each Coast Guard member was tested for COVID-19 before deploying, followed by appropriate quarantine procedures. Inspectors wore protective equipment in accordance with state health mandates and practiced social distancing.