Cleanup underway of submerged fishing tender

Cleanup efforts are continuing near Clark’s Point in Bristol Bay in the wake of the sinking of a fishing tender on July 25, with two men on board rescued from the water and a third crewmember presumed drowned.

The F/V Pacific Knight, with an estimated 800 gallons of diesel and 300 gallons of hydraulic fluid on board, capsized in Nushagak Bay, some 11 nautical miles south of Dillingham. Good Samaritans aboard the Amanda C rescued two men from the water. An extensive search for the third crewman was later suspended by the Coast Guard.

On July 31, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game reopened the commercial salmon fishery in the Nushagak district of Bristol Bay, after observing no fuel sheen on the water, said Tim Sands, area management biologist at Dillingham for ADF&G. Fishing was continuing for sockeye salmon and harvests were also under way for cohos and humpies, he said.

Todd Duke, general manager for Resolve Magone Marine Services (Alaska), said that through July 31, they had recovered a substantial amount of fuel from the vessel, but that what was pumped off was mixed with water, so exactly how much fuel was salvaged was undetermined.

Resolve Magone’s dive team had successfully pumped fuel from the vessel’s port diesel tank and secured the hydraulic fluid tank vents, and efforts were continuing to remove the remaining fuel from the vessel.

Officials with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said the responsible party, identified as Lone Fisherman, Inc. was working with the Coast Guard and had hired Resolve Magone as their contractor. Poor visibility, severe currents and deck gear have restricted dive operations, DEC said in a situation report update on July 31.

Duke noted that the window of opportunity was limited because of the 15-foot tide cycle, but the fact that the incident occurred relatively close to shore and in 25 to 30 feet of water made this incident less challenging than some.

Nushagak Bay at this time of year supports all five species of Pacific salmon, several commercially important groundfish species, marine mammals, seabirds, shorebirds, waterfowl and eagles. The shorelines west of Nushagak Bay are part of Togiak National Wildlife Refuge.