Coast Guard identifies numerous maritime law violations

Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas Santos, a boatswain’s mate with the Coast Guard Cutter John McCormick, operates the cutter’s small boat alongside the fishing vessel Tenisha Rose in Sitka Sound, Alaska, while Lt. j.g. Michaela Mckeown and Lt. j.g. Michael Civay conduct a commercial fishing vessel safety inspection March 19, 2019. The cutter crew conducted commercial fishing vessel safety exams in the Sitka Sound and Sitka Harbor in preparation for the 2019 Sac Roe Herring fishery. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ens. Lindsay Wheeler

U.S. Coast Guard personnel say they are identifying a concerning trend in violations of maritime law throughout western and Arctic Alaska, ranging from illegal drug use to unserviceable life-saving equipment.

The most common drug mariners test positive for is marijuana. Although Alaska legalized recreational marijuana its use is prohibited aboard commercial fishing vessels by state and federal law. Federally credentialed mariners are prohibited at all times from using marijuana or being under its effect.

Another concerning trend relates to unserviceable or missing life-saving equipment aboard commercial fishing vessels. From June 8 through June 22, the Coast Guard Marine Safety Task Force removed 119 immersion suits during commercial fishing vessel exams in the King Salmon area because they were not in serviceable condition. Most vessel owners replaced the unserviceable suits with new ones to be in compliance, the Coast Guard said.