Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Stateless Vessel at Dutch Harbor

A stateless fishing vessel infested with rats and loaded down with squid and shark is now anchored off the coast of Dutch Harbor, and its crew has been taken to Anchorage for questioning by federal authorities. The country of origin of the fishing vessel Bangun Perkasa has yet to be confirmed. Meanwhile the US Coast Guard has a bid out to eradicate the rats on the ship, which the Coast Guard said had more than 10 miles of drift net, plus the squid and shark carcasses. Use of driftnets is universally condemned as a significant threat to ocean ecosystems, and to the food and economic security of nations relying on seafood resources. The Bangun Perkasa was seized by the Coast Guard some 2,600 miles southwest of Kodiak, after the Coast Guard was tipped by the Fisheries Agency of Japan, whose maritime patrol spotted the vessel on Sept. 7. The vessel was determined to be without valid flag state registration and seized as a stateless vessel for violation of US law.

Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, proposed that the Bangun Perkasa be towed out to sea and sunk because of the rats, who pose a threat to waterfowl and other native wildlife species, but the Coast Guard said any decision on what to do with the vessel would rest with the National Marine Fisheries Service. The Coast Guard said that this point eradication of the rats appeared to pose less risk to the environment than sinking the vessel.

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