Senate Passes Budget That Would Fund Government Into 2017

UncategorizedSenate Passes Budget That Would Fund Government Into 2017October 30, 2015 by Laura Wagner, NPR News Share:The Senate passed a bill to fund the government for two years. The measure suspends the debt ceiling and allocates $80 billion to domestic and defense programs.Jacquelyn Martin/APThe Senate passed a bill at 3:12 a.m. ET Friday that would raise the debt ceiling and fund the government into 2017. This means that there would be no fiscal standoffs and threats of government shutdown for more than a year.The measure is now on its way to the White House for President Obama’s signature, NPR’s Ailsa Chang reports for the Newscast unit:“For months, there was real concern the looming Nov. 3 deadline to lift the debt ceiling was going to send Congress into crisis mode, right when it was picking a new speaker of the House.“But now Congress has days to spare, having passed a budget agreement that raises the debt ceiling until March 2017. The deal also increases federal spending by $80 billion over the next two years — splitting that amount evenly between defense and domestic programs.“The agreement was negotiated by former Speaker John Boehner, three other congressional leaders and the White House. The newly elected speaker, Paul Ryan, supported the deal but says he’ll ensure a more inclusive process next time important legislation is at stake.”As we reported earlier this week, the package also includes provisions that delay a hike in Medicare premiums, sell oil from the emergency reserve to offset spending, and shift Social Security money around.“The Social Security Disability Insurance fund will, as of right now, be unable to pay full benefits late next year, when it would have to slash them by 19 percent. This bill would shift money from the old age fund and into the disability fund — a tactic Congress has used several times before.”Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.Read Original Article – Published OCTOBER 30, 2015 3:12 AM ETSenate Passes Budget That Would Fund Government Into 2017Share this story: read more

New program tests for harmful algae blooms, toxicity in Southeast waters

first_imgClimate Change | Environment | Science & Tech | SoutheastNew program tests for harmful algae blooms, toxicity in Southeast watersDecember 6, 2015 by Theresa Soley Share:Average chlorophyll concentrations in milligrams per cubic meter of water in July 2015. The darkest green areas have the highest surface chlorophyll concentrations and the largest amounts of phytoplankton, both toxic and harmless species. (Image courtesy NOAA)During the summer, toxic algae whip through marine currents in Southeast and are consumed by filter-feeding bivalves, like mussels. One such algae is an armored dinoflagellate called Alexandrium.Alexandrium was common only in summer months previously, but now may be present in the winter, too.“Blue mussels are kind of like the pigs of the sea. They never stop feeding,” said Chris Whitehead, environmental program manager of the Southeast Alaska Tribal Toxins partnership.Blue mussels are one entry point for Alexandrium to work its way up the food chain. The algae cause paralytic shellfish poisoning, affecting animals that eat blue mussels, like Dungeness crabs and humans.And another harmful algae, Pseudo-nitzschia, is circulating in the Pacific too.From California to Washington, commercial Dungeness crab fisheries were closed or delayed this fall because of the Pseudo-nitzschia bloom. Some species of the algae produce domoic acid, a neurotoxin.Dungeness crab at Pike Place Market in Seattle, October 2011. (Creative Commons photo by jpellgen)The Southeast Alaska Tribal Toxins partnership and University of Alaska Fairbanks oceanographer Liz Tobin have created a program to test for blooms and toxicity in Southeast.September SEATT data from Juneau indicates Pseudo-nitzschia was present at Amalga Harbor, Auke Bay, Eagle Beach and Point Louisa. According to Tobin, the presence of Pseudo-nitzschia has been documented in Southeast but there is no evidence of the harmful domoic acid.Whitehead, with the tribal partnership, said the Pseudo-nitzschia found in Southeast could be a different, nontoxic species than the one documented down south.Moving up the coast, “somewhere in Canada everything changed,” he said. “As soon as it left the West Coast of Washington and moved into British Columbia something switched.”At the Juneau testing sites monitored this September, Alexandrium was present at all locations except Eagle Beach, although there was no bloom.In the past, it was considered safe in Southeast to consume bivalves harvested from September through April, because Alexandrium was uncommon. But there was a case of PSP documented last December in Juneau, according to Whitehead.While the monitoring project for toxic algae is in its infancy, researchers believe future studies will detect blooms before they become harmful to people. Monitoring plans include testing bivalves and dungees for the toxins.A recent study from Haines found the guts of Dungeness crab tested higher for PSP than Food and Drug Administration limits for human consumption. While most people don’t eat the guts, the results may be worrisome for crab consumers.Christine Woll fishes for dungees by kayak from North Douglas. She drops a collapsible pot each spring and paddles to it weekly throughout the summer to retrieve her catch. She guts each crab and keeps the meat only.Woll used to make crab stock out of the leftover carapace, but she has stopped.“If there are extra parts of the crab left there on the shell that might be toxic, that would be a place that I might get in trouble,” she said.According to oceanographer Tobin, as far as research can tell, only consumption of infected dungee guts, not the meat, is toxic for human consumption when it comes to PSP.But domoic acid accumulates in crab meat.Tobin said a few environmental factors are responsible for prolific algae blooms.“Temperature seems to be a driving factor, but considering that this year we had anonymously high sea surface temperatures in the Juneau area, and we didn’t see a bloom (of Alexandria), that indicates that it’s not the only contributing factor,” she said.Wind speeds, freshwater runoff and nutrient loading could also affect the blooms.An unusual mortality event of 18 endangered whales near Kodiak has raised concerns toxic algae could be harming whales, too.All of these questions call for further monitoring by the tribal partnership.The group’s new biotoxin lab in Sitka will take a leap forward in early detection of harmful blooms. The monitoring program could allow documentation of toxins before they work through the food chain from mussels to crabs and humans.Share this story:last_img read more

City of Bethel bets on wind energy to cut diesel costs

first_imgEnergy & Mining | SouthwestCity of Bethel bets on wind energy to cut diesel costsDecember 16, 2015 by Anna Rose MacArthur, KYUK Share:AVEC meteorological tower south of the Bethel landfill. (Photo by Dean Swope/KYUK)Energy officials hope two newly constructed towers in Bethel will pave the way to reducing the city’s multimillion gallon dependence on diesel fuel. The Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, or AVEC, raised the towers to collect atmospheric data for future wind turbines.Steve Gilbert manages AVEC’s energy projects and said one turbine could replace over 200,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year, lowering electric costs in Bethel.“That’s money that stays in the community,” Gilbert said. “In other words, we don’t have to use that to buy fuel to generate the electricity.”Gilbert said Bethel’s electric grid consumes 2.5 million gallons of diesel annually. The turbines would reduce that amount, but the number of turbines AVEC would install is still undecided. What Gilbert can say is Bethel is AVEC’s largest customer and the turbines would be the largest ever used by the company.“We may start out with a single turbine. We might be able to put in two or three,” Gilbert said.The towers are temporary and should stand about three years until turbines are installed.AVEC is a nonprofit utility company serving 56 villages across rural Alaska. Gilbert says AVEC operates more wind turbines than any electric utility in the state with 34 turbines in 12 communities.Share this story:last_img read more

Senate Finance Committee pulls various bills from hearing

first_imgState GovernmentSenate Finance Committee pulls various bills from hearingApril 4, 2016 by Hannah Colton, KDLG Share:Late last month, the Senate Finance Committee introduced bills to cut back the Community Revenue Sharing grant program, and up the amount schools and municipalities pay toward employee’s pensions. But now, at least, one of those bills – the one dealing with PERS contributions – has been put on hold. The bills were pulled from Monday’s scheduled hearing with less than a day’s notice.Four bills introduced last week would dramatically increase local contributions to the Teachers and Public Employees’ Retirement System, halve the community revenue sharing program and eliminate a college scholarship program.The package of legislation was pulled off the Senate Finance schedule late Sunday ahead of an opportunity for public comment Monday afternoon.School districts, like Dillingham’s, were preparing to paint a picture of the impact of increased PERS and TRS contributions.Superintendent Danny Frazier says it would mean losing more teachers on top of the four positions the district has already cut in a tough budgeting process this spring.“We’ve already been through the budget study where we invited the public to come and comment on the budget,” said Frazier. “And it’s pretty easy to see that 64 percent of our budget is in personnel. So we don’t have a lot of places to get money except for personnel. So it’s going to impact us greatly in that we could lose 3 teaching positions, and the district just doesn’t have the money in reserve to pay these extra expenses.”Even if the legislature passes an anticipated $50 increase to the Base Student Allocation, Frazier says that additional money would make up for less than a quarter of the increased PERS and TRS burden.“I’m sure that some of the Senate members realize there’s going to be a lot of pushback on these bills,” says Kathie Wasserman, executive director of the Alaska Municipal League, “because while they are certainly opposed to raising taxes, it’s really strange that they’re not opposed to us raising taxes.”Wasserman has been working against the bills since they were rolled out last week.“These are not just small bills. These are not small amounts, these are huge amounts. Cities who contribute to their schools — since school districts can’t raise money — all of this is going to fall on municipalities, with the PERS and the TRS. I mean, I can’t imagine what they were thinking when they drafted these bills.”The bill’s sponsors have said some of the new costs to districts and municipalities would be offset by money that’s currently being used for the Alaska Performance Scholarships, and by local property tax increases on veterans and senior citizens.Hearings on the bills were canceled for Monday and Tuesday.In a press release late Monday afternoon, Senate Majority leaders announced they will not move forward with Senate Bill 209, the PERS increase.The Senate will hold a hearing on S.B. 207, the TRS bill, later this week.Share this story:last_img read more

Skagway ferry service during dock repair hinges on Coast Guard waiver

first_imgShare this story: Business | Economy | Local Government | Southeast | Tourism | TransportationSkagway ferry service during dock repair hinges on Coast Guard waiverAugust 8, 2016 by Emily Files, KHNS Share:The Skagway ferry dock. (Emily Files, KHNS)Skagway borough officials wondered aloud what was happening with the planned Skagway ferry dock refurbishment, at a meeting last week.The project could cut off local ferry service for months.Whether Skagway retains any service during the dock project depends on a Coast Guard waiver the Alaska Marine Highway hopes to acquire.Earlier this year, the Department of Transportation said if the ferry dock project were to happen this winter, then it would probably mean a two- to three-month disruption in service for Skagway.But, they said if the project were delayed until next winter, the Kennicott ferry might be able to offer some limited service using one of Skagway’s other docks.The Matanuska usually provides winter ferry service to Skagway, but that vessel is due for engine replacement next year, taking the boat out of service for most of the fall and winter of 2017.That’s where the Kennicott might come in.It has to do with a certification that only some ferries hold, called the Safety of Life at Sea, or SOLAS, certification. SOLAS is required for vessels that run in international waters.The Matanuska has it, because its route includes Prince Rupert, British Columbia. The Kennicott is also SOLAS-approved.Swapping in the Kennicott would be good for Skagway.Sailings would be less frequent, but they would accommodate both passengers and vehicles.DOT spokesman Jeremy Woodrow says that’s because the ship is adaptable to different kinds of dock.“Because it has the ability to service docks that don’t have floating ramps,” Woodrow said. “It can go to fixed docks where it uses this vehicle elevator lift to allow cars to go on and off the ferry.”Woodrow’s department doesn’t want to use the Kennicott as the Matanuska’s replacement, he said. It’s an expensive ship to run on a low-volume route.“It’s a larger ship than we need in Southeast especially on the Price Rupert run in the winter time.”The DOT would prefer to run the smaller, cheaper Malaspina while the Matanuska is out of commission, but there’s just one problem: The Malaspina doesn’t have a SOLAS certification because it usually sails the Bellingham, Washington, to Southeast route.DOT applied for a waiver with the Coast Guard to allow the Malaspina to operate without the certification on a short-term basis.Woodrow isn’t sure when they’ll get an answer from the Coast Guard.“We think that we will be able to receive that waiver especially since it’s just for a specific window,” he said. “But it’s really something that’s in the air and we’re waiting to hear back from the Coast Guard.”The service that might be available to Skagway hinges on the waiver.The interestes of DOT and Skagway are conflicted: It would be better for DOT to get the waiver and not have to use the Kennicott; It would better for Skagway if the waiver were denied, the project was put off until 2017, and the Kennicott sailed the Lynn Canal.If the Malaspina replaced the Matanuska instead, Skagway could lose ferry service for a few months. DOT is looking into other possibilities, Woodrow said.“To see if there is a way, at the very minimum, to provide passenger-only service. A determination on that has not been made.”Without ferries, Skagway residents would lose their most reliable form of transportation out of town.Flights from small airlines are often grounded because of inclement winter weather. Driving out of Skagway is contingent on the US-Canada border being open and road conditions, which are also at the mercy of winter weather.last_img read more

Uber and Lyft are rolling into Juneau

first_imgJuneau | Local Government | State Government | TransportationUber and Lyft are rolling into JuneauJune 15, 2017 by Jacob Resneck, KTOO Share:Alaska Gov. Bill Walker shows off House Bill 132 after signing the ride-hailing measure into law in Juneau on June 15, 2017. Pictured with him are bill supporters Sen. Anna MacKinnon, Sen. Mia Costello and Rep. Adam Wool. (Photo courtesy Alaska House Majority Coalition)Gov. Bill Walker signed legislation Thursday paving way for ride-share companies, such as Uber and Lyft, to operate in Alaska.The companies dispatch private cars to act as taxis via smartphone app. Passengers are billed electronically and private drivers receive a portion of the fare.But the new state law signed by the governor precludes local governments from regulating the ride-share companies except by ballot measure.And that’s led to opposition from cities – including Juneau, whose manager had urged the governor not to sign the bill.But now that it’s law the city will try to iron out issues directly with the companies.Deputy City Manager Mila Cosgrove said there are concerns.“Particularly in the cruise ship area,” she said. “I think we’ll try to work with them to come up with an agreement that will best serve the needs of that particular area”The Alaska Municipal League, which represents local governments, also lobbied against the bill.“The issue is not them coming into town,” Executive Director Kathie Wasserman said. “The issue is them coming into town and having the Legislature exempt them from any municipal or local government ordinance. That we have a problem with. We should all be lucky enough to come into a town and say, ‘Yeah, I don’t feel like playing by those rules.’ And so we get exempted? I mean, that’s just not the way things work.”A delegation from the San Francisco-based Uber recently met with city officials in Juneau to discuss concerns about congestion around cruise ship ports and the city-run airport.The company says it plans to begin service in Juneau on Monday.Uber’s competitor, Lyft also is talking to officials in Juneau.“You know we’re constantly looking to work with city officials to make sure that we’re operating in a way that’s helpful to the city,” Lyft spokesman Scott Coriell said. “We also want to make sure that people have access to our service and are able to get to where they need to go.”Juneau’s airport board recently proposed imposing a $3 surcharge on all pickups and drop-offs at the passenger terminal.But it’s unclear whether that would be enforceable under state law.Share this story:last_img read more

Can Alaska Native villagers in the YK Delta get a fair trial?

first_imgAlaska Native Government & Policy | Crime & Courts | SouthwestCan Alaska Native villagers in the YK Delta get a fair trial?August 16, 2017 by Teresa Cotsirilos, KYUK-Bethel Share:The Alaska courthouse in Bethel. (Photo by Anna Rose MacArthur/KYUK)A new court case argues that the way in which state juries are selected in Alaska discriminates against rural, Native communities.The case could significantly impact the Delta’s court system if it’s successful.Audio Playerhttp://media.aprn.org/2017/ann-20170815-04.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.This story started about five years ago outside of Kiana, when Teddy Smith swore he saw an enukin – one of the legendary little people.Smith is Inupiat and a small-time TV actor.At the time, his mother had just died, which had affected him deeply. Smith spent the days following her death camped out in a remote cabin, hiking the tundra and surviving on berries and water.He said that he could hear the enukins’ voices, and they “followed him continually, day and night.”At one point, an enukin tried to enter the remote cabin where he was staying. When Smith saw the enukin, he screamed for it to get out of the cabin and then started shooting at it.In reality, Smith didn’t shoot an enukin.He shot two hunters, one in the chest and one in the arm, and then fled on a raft down the river.Smith said that he was trying to get back to Kiana to “find out what was real and what isn’t.”The two hunters survived and the State Troopers arrested Smith, charging him with first-degree attempted murder.At trial, Smith’s attorneys argued that if Smith was going to be judged by a jury of his peers, then some of the jurors in his case had to come from the region’s remote villages.People from hub communities like Kotzebue, they argued, might not understand the cultural significance of enukins.But prosecutors claimed that bringing jurors in from the rural villages would be too expensive.The judge ruled in their favor, and none of the members of Smith’s jury were people who had been raised in the villages.Smith was found guilty of attempted murder and sentenced to 99 years in prison.Citing a study from the 1990s, Alaska ACLU legal and policy director of the Tara Rich said that rural Alaskans see the court system as remote, intimidating and as an unfathomable institution.Jury selection has been a problem in Alaska for a long time.Smith’s attorney is appealing his case, and the ACLU and the Native American Rights Fund have jointly filed a “friend of the court” brief supporting that appeal.They argue that Alaska’s current jury selection system violates Smith and other defendants’ civil rights.Rich said that Alaska’s state court systems do not select jurors from dozens of the state’s remote villages.The state claims that it would be too expensive to transport village residents to hub cities and house them there.These excluded villages are largely Alaska Native, and as a result, Rich said that 30 percent of Alaska Natives will never be called to serve on a jury, even though Alaska Natives are disproportionately represented in cases in the state’s criminal justice system.According to Rich, the policy of excluding villagers from juries alienates village residents from a criminal justice system that’s supposed to serve them. And when residents are accused of a crime, the jury that judges them might not have any Native members at all.“That is such a critical part about the fairness of this process,” Rich said. “That decisions are not made, particularly the decision of someone’s freedom, based on someone’s cultural compatibility and ability to relate.”She added that the Bethel Court System is, in some ways, worse than most. It includes more villages than some other courts do.Bethel’s court selects jurors who live within a 50-mile radius of the courthouse, and Aniak and Emmonak’s courthouses also only pull jurors from nearby villages.As a result, Rich said in the YK Delta, “40 percent of Alaska Native residents are never called to a jury. That’s slightly more than the state average.”Smith’s appeal, including the brief from the ACLU and Native American Rights Fund, is currently pending before the Alaska Court of Appeals.Share this story:last_img read more

With Exxon Valdez settlement money, Alaska preserves nearly 2,000 acres near Kodiak

first_imgEnergy & Mining | Environment | Southwest | State GovernmentWith Exxon Valdez settlement money, Alaska preserves nearly 2,000 acres near KodiakSeptember 3, 2017 by Kayla Desroches, KMXT Share:The state of Alaska purchased nearly 2,000 acres of Afognak Island around the Thorsheim drainage, pictured here, for land preservation through Exxon Valdez settlement funds. (Photo courtesy Great Land Trust)An initiative to conserve one coastal habitat in the Kodiak Archipelago is now complete. The Thorsheim drainage on Afognak Island includes almost 2,000 acres of natural habitat.It’s now safe from development and tree harvest.The executive director of the organization that mediated the agreement, Ellen Kazary with the Great Land Trust, said the parcel includes nearly the entire watershed.“So, it has just that whole variety then of fisheries habitat. So, in that area you find three species of salmon. Right off the coastline, we have continuous kelp beds and eel grass, which is a great kind of spawning habitat for juvenile fish and, while the salmon and the fisheries are one of our priorities, we also have Dolly Varden and Steelhead and Arctic char, and so it’s just rich with fish.”This conservation effort traces its roots back to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. After that catastrophe, the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council put funds from a civil settlement into helping the damaged habitats recover.That’s where the Great Land Trust comes in.Kazary said part of the council’s efforts includes commissioning the nonprofit to find valuable coastline habitats and mediate agreements to protect them.“This particular piece of property was scheduled to be logged in 2017 and 2018,” Kazary said. “By putting it into conservation, it means that it will no longer be logged now or in the future, so it’s retiring those rights to subdivide or develop or log or clear-cut or whatever other development actions could happen on the property.”Uyak Natives Inc. had owned the Thorsheim drainage parcel. They had also sold logging rights on that land to a company called Trans-Pac Alaska Limited Partnership.With funding from the trustee council, the Great Land Trust arranged for the transfer of ownership to the state of Alaska and the handover of the conservation easement, or development rights, to the Bureau of Land Management.In return, Uyak and Trans-Pac split a total about $6.3 million between them.Uyak President and CEO Gabe McKilly said the corporation had tried and failed before to conserve the land, and he’s satisfied with this most recent development.“I think it was a fair price to us and a fair price to the state in what they got in return. This is very unique land. This is not normal. This is not harvested, not touched. So, it’s got a value – you really can’t place a number on it.”The Afognak Island parcel is just one of the Kodiak properties the Great Land Trust has identified for conservation. This year the organization finalized a similar conservation easement transfer for Termination Point, a popular hiking spot.Share this story:last_img read more

3 to 5 inches of snow forecasted for Monday; winter weather advisory issued

first_imgJuneau | Weather3 to 5 inches of snow forecasted for Monday; winter weather advisory issuedFebruary 26, 2018 by Tripp J Crouse, KTOO Share:A pedestrian walks into the State Office Building in downtown Juneau on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018. (Photo by Tripp J Crouse/KTOO)A winter weather advisory is in effect until noon today. The National Weather Service in Juneau says we can expect about 3 to 5 inches of snow.The snow started falling after 3 a.m., meteorologist intern Sharon Sullivan said.“Heavier snow fall is what we’ll expect out of this,” Sullivan said. “That’ll mostly be late morning hours that it’ll be effective.”That’s on top of weekend storm totals The weather service office reported 5.3 inches of snow on Back Loop Road.Douglas received about 7 inches of snow over the weekend. And Petersburg reported about 10 inches.“Kind of as this intitial snow falls, we’ll have some areas of blowing snow,” Sullivan said. “Also will be a concern are 20- to 30-foot seas in the gulf.”Winds will pick up later this afternoon. Sullivan said 45 mph winds are expected in the northern inner channels, and those winds will work their way down the channel.Lingering showers are expected into Tuesday.Share this story:last_img read more

Destination likely sank after accumulating ice in heavy freezing spray, report says

first_imgAleutians | Fisheries | Public Safety | Search & RescueDestination likely sank after accumulating ice in heavy freezing spray, report saysJuly 16, 2018 by Laura Kraegel, KUCB-Unalaska Share:Six F/V Destination crew members died when their boat disappeared in February near St. George Island, marking the deadliest accident in more than a decade for the Bering Sea crab fleet. The Coast Guard is holding public hearings as part of its investigation into the Destination’s sinking. (Photo courtesy F/V Destination Memorial Fund)Federal investigators concluded that a crab boat, which sank in the Bering Sea last winter, likely capsized after the vessel became coated in hundreds of thousands of pounds of ice.The findings shed new light on the loss of the F/V Destination and its six crew members.Audio Playerhttps://cpa.ds.npr.org/kucb2/audio/2018/07/16DESTINATION.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Destination pushed through rough, frigid waters Feb. 11, 2017, a few miles from St. George Island.The boat went from carrying 200 crab pots and preparing for opilio season to vanished in about four minutes without a mayday call.“Whatever happened happened very, very quickly,” said spokesman Chris O’Neil of the National Transportation Safety Board. “And there’s no one left to tell their story.”NOAA Ship Fairweather captured this sonar image of the F/V Destination, where it rests on the sea floor near St. George Island. (Image courtesy National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)O’Neil said NTSB investigators reviewed the vessel’s mechanical history, pored over weather reports, and interviewed almost 50 people to piece together the probable cause of the accident.“The captain’s decision to proceed into heavy freezing spray conditions without ensuring the Destination had a margin of stability to withstand that accumulation of ice led to the loss of the vessel,” he said.In better conditions, the boat could have carried the 200 crab pots without a problem.But with gale force winds kicking up freezing spray, the Destination became weighed down by up to 339,416 pounds of ice.“If you look at that probable cause, yes, this is a preventable accident,” O’Neil said.With no survivors to interview, NTSB couldn’t determine why the crew didn’t beat more ice to mitigate that weight — especially a well-respected crew with more than 70 years of collective fishing experience.“It’s very hard to know the mindset, the decision-making process, and what factors were or were not considered,” O’Neil said. “But certainly, through the evidence that was collected, we recognized the pressures that are associated with the industry.”Investigators found several signs that the crew was feeling the pressure of time.The vessel had gotten a late start on crab after fishing for cod.Its delivery deadline was looming.A few weeks earlier, a crew member had texted his father, “Oh my god, I haven’t slept in days.”F/V Polar Sea captain Daher Jorge is familiar with the strains of commercial fishing. The boat was fishing for crab in the same area as the Destination the day it went down.“The whole crew was exhausted,” Jorge said. “I was beating ice with my crew.”The Polar Sea pulled into port safely after hours spent heaving sledgehammers to break ice.But in an interview weeks later, Jorge said the Destination’s sinking was a wake-up call for the entire fleet.“It’s devastating,” he said. “They say most accidents happen close to home. He was so close to St. Paul. He was at St. George. He could’ve anchored up there and gotten some ice off the boat. We have no need to rush so much. We’re going to catch the crab, so why are we going to push that hard?”In a fishery that’s made huge safety strides in the last two decades, U.S. Coast Guard officials say crabbers have taken the sinking to heart.Almost 50 boats participated in a voluntary safety check last year to review their stability criteria, and there were no fatalities in this winter crab season.The loss of the Destination marks the fleet’s deadliest accident since 2005, in which F/V Big Valley sank. Five  crewmen died, and one survived.Share this story:last_img read more