Tides turn in Bristol Bay: Another disaster at Clarks Point

The Nushagak District of Alaska’s Bristol Bay closed to fishing last Thursday as the fuel from a sunken tender threatened water quality in the area. An estimated 800 gallons of diesel and 300 gallons of hydraulic fluid were onboard the Pacific Knight when it sank on Wednesday, July 25, according to a report from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

Petersburg resident Jeb Phillips, 31, and a teenage boy were able to escape the boat and were rescued by the Amanda C. John Phillips, 59, of Juneau was also onboard the 58-foot seiner-longliner and is still missing. The Coast Guard called off a search for him late Wednesday.

According to the report, “A sheen is emanating from the sunken vessel,” but the amount spilled is unknown. Dive teams were unsuccessful in stopping the leak over the weekend and again Monday night. Another dive team will assess the remaining fuel and attempt to pump it out. The district could reopen as soon as Tuesday evening, based on aerial surveys and reports.

Clarks Point was also the location of the F/V Kristi sinking, after it was crushed between the 400-foot cargo ship Sohoh and the 330-foot processing boat Gordon Jensen.

Unlike the rest of Alaska, sockeye catches in the bay are at or near record highs, though the season for the Nushagak District is winding down.

About the author

Jessica Hathaway

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 13 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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