Strict new rules are now in place for Alaska fishermen and their vessels to protect against and prevent the spread of covid-19 during the 2020 salmon season.

Effective April 24, Gov. Mike Dunleavy provided 11 pages of mandates that specifically apply to those who have not "agreed to operate under a fleet-wide plan submitted by a company, association or entity" representing them.

Developing Vessel Procedures and Performing Symptomatic Crew Assessment in the Midst of COVID-19

Among other things, each independent skipper must sign a Health Mandate Acknowledgement Form prior to going fishing. They are required to maintain a written or time-stamped electronic log acknowledging that they will comply with the mandates, along with a clear description of which protective plan they are enforcing on their vessel. Skippers also must certify that crew members have been screened upon arrival and that they have completed self-quarantines.

Prior to accepting any fish or making any payment to a vessel, a tender or processor must receive a signed copy of the vessel’s Acknowledgement Form. It only needs to be done once during the season, but all parties must retain a signed copy until the end of the year.

Crew members and captains flying to Bristol Bay and other Alaska regions will undergo verbal and physical screenings upon arrival. They must wear masks while traveling on commercial or chartered aircraft, at air terminals, and go directly to where they will quarantine for two weeks and have their temperatures checked twice a day.

Crew members are allowed to quarantine onboard a vessel and participate in fishing as long as they restrict contact with other boats and people on shore as much as possible.

To protect communities, the mandates stipulate that crew can only leave the vessel for essential purposes.

If a fisherman becomes sick, they will be required to isolate themselves on the boat. If they are unable to do so, the entire vessel will be under isolation.

There are many other requirements, which the state will re-evaluate by May 30.

Meanwhile, to further explain the mandates and answer questions, United Fishermen of Alaska is holding a free webinar on Wednesday, April 29 at 10 a.m.

Participants include Tom Koloski and Charles Pelton with Alaska Unified Command; Jason Wiard, environmental health officer with the Division of Environmental Conservation; and John Moller, Dunleavy’s commercial fisheries policy advisor.

Registration is required. See the new fishing rules and sign on for the free webinar at

Laine Welch is an independent Kodiak, Alaska-based fisheries journalist. Click here to send her an email.

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