SOLYMONE BLOG

ALASKAN SENATOR WANTS RAT INFESTED SHIP SUNK


JUNEAU, Alaska — Last Tuesday a vessel detained on suspicion of illegal fishing was being escorted to Alaska but it won't be docking right away because a severe rat infestation aboard means it will have to be cleaned up first.
U.S. Coast Guard crew who boarded the Bangun Perkasa found 30 tons of squid, some 30 shark carcasses and 10 miles of high seas drift net, a type of fishing banned internationally because it hauls up marine life indiscriminately, from birds to sea turtles and even whales.
  • Alaskan Sen. Mark Begich (right photo) urged that the rogue ship be instead sunk. On Tuesday, Begich wrote to the Coast Guard's commandant, saying that sinking the Bangun Perkasa would send a clear signal that "pirate" fishing is unacceptable to the United States, and won't be tolerated.
  • Begich, in his letter, said he's concerned the eradication efforts won't be totally effective. He outlined a number of steps that should be taken before "scuttling" the vessel, including providing public notice to the ship's owner to reclaim it and pay any fines and expenses associated with its seizure.
  • He said fuel and other contaminants should be removed, along with as many rats as possible, and illegal driftnets and other debris should go down with the ship.
  • "The hulk should be towed far offshore, well beyond the rats' ability to swim, and then the Coast Guard should open fire," the Democrat wrote.
  • Sinking the boat would keep "the rust bucket from ending up back on the market where it most likely will fall into the hands of some other pirate," Begich said.
  • Using it for "gunnery practice" would also demonstrate the firepower of the Coast Guard's National Security cutters, he said.
Inspite of Begich request, The Coast Guard has hired a contractor to clean and repair a rat-infested fishing vessel. The contractor will tow the Bangun Perkasa out to sea from Dutch Harbor, NBC affiliate KTUU reported Wednesday. Traps and poison will be used on the rats.
A Coast Guard spokeswoman in Alaska, Sara Francis, said a decision about what to do with the vessel would be made by NOAA Fisheries.
  • A spokeswoman for that agency, Julie Speegle, said the options for how best to deal with the vessel likely wouldn't be discussed until it is brought to shore and a survey — evaluating such things as whether the ship is sea-worthy or of any value — has been completed.
  • On Monday, the 22 crew members were removed and flown to Anchorage, where federal authorities planned to question them. Francis said rat eradication efforts have since gotten under way. Plans call for using traps and poison.
Francis said that as far as she knows, the catch remained on the vessel. She said normally, when the Coast Guard seizes a vessel, the catch and ship are turned over to NOAA Fisheries.
Indonesia denied the crew's claim that the ship was registered there. The crew will eventually be sent back to their home countries.
If identified, the ship's owners could face penalties up to $125,000.

Source: Agency
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