UPDATE: Two of four partially submerged fishing vessels recovered
UPDATE: The U.S. Coast Guard said Tuesday that two of four partially submerged fishing vessels had been recovered.
Petty Officer Bill Colclough of the U.S. Coast Guard said multiple agencies were working to retrieve the other two remaining vessels.
"We're working with the vessel owners to safely recover those vessels from the waterway," Colclough said.
Colclough said there were harsh conditions in the Nushagak Bay area on Monday.
"In Nushagak Bay and near Dillingham, there are a series of sand bars and harsh there were harsh weather conditions present yesterday combined with the shifting sand bars that made it much more difficult," Colclough said.
Lisa Krebs-Barsis with the the Alaska Dept. Environmental Conservation Central Alaska Response Team said there was 1 confirmed release of diesel into the water.
"It was a small release and it mostly dissipated, there's not really a lot of recovery that you can do with a small amount of diesel," Krebs-Barsis said.
At least four commercial fishing vessels were left partially submerged Monday after they began taking on water in Nushagak Bay near Dillingham.
All crew members were safely rescued by three Good Samaritan vessels and no injuries were reported. The U.S. Coast Guard described the sinkings as “separate incidents” and said the cause is under investigation.
State officials reported rain and patchy fog in the area at the time as well as five foot seas and westerly winds as high as 20 knots, with similar conditions expected to persist Tuesday.
One of the vessels, identified as the F/V Ketok, became grounded and partially submerged near Ekuk and spilled an unknown amount of fuel into the bay. According to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, the boat was carrying up to 150 gallons of diesel and 25 gallons of hydraulic oil at the time. The spill was reported to the Department of Fish and Game just before 9 a.m. Monday.
“Locals observed ribbons of sheen and a diesel odor on the water at the scene of the grounding,” ADEC wrote in a report on the incident. “[Fish and Game] personnel conducted a flyover this morning and confirmed the location of the grounded vessel.”
ADEC says commercial fisheries in the area remain open, however officials sent out an announcement to local fishermen to be aware of the incident. A nearby cannery has suspended purchasing fish from the area and some fishermen have pulled their nets from the bay.
"We are working closely with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Alaska Fish and Game and the Bristol Bay Native Association to mitigate any potential harm to the environment," said Capt. Sean Mackenzie, Federal On-Scene Coordinator, commander for Sector Anchorage.
ADEC says the Ketok’s owner is responding to pump out any remaining fuel on board the vessel.