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Akutan still going nowhere in Unalaska

September 22nd, 2017 | Jim Paulin Print this article   Email this article  

The ill-fated fish processor Akutan remains abandoned in Captains Bay in Unalaska, but at least all the Bristol Bay salmon is off the abandoned vessel.

Unalaska Ports Director Peggy McGlaughlin said the fish has been removed and placed into refrigerated shipping containers for storage, while legal issues are sorted out. Until then, the rust-stained ship will continue swinging around on its anchor chain at the head of Captains Bay.

Last month, the Coast Guard reported the removal of 15,800 gallons of oil-water mixture and sludge, representing, at that time, "an imminent and substantial threat of pollution in Unalaska."

According to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Captains Bay is designated critical habitat for sea otters and Steller sea lions. Other marine mammals present could include endangered humpback, northern right, and fin whales, as well as harbor porpoise, Dall's porpoise, gray whales and killer whales. The Captains Bay islets tufted puffin and pigeon guillemot seabird colony is located near the head of the bay and the South Amaknak area supports two seabird breeding colonies for pigeon guillemots and horned puffins. Other migratory birds are present.

The area is essential fish habitat for all five species of pacific salmon and several groundfish species. There is no commercial fishing in Captains Bay, but the area is active with subsistence fishing and sport fishing. Shaishnikof River, Iliuliuk River, and Pyramid Creek south of Obernoi Point are anadromous streams.

Captains Bay is vital for both recreational and commercial activities. There are two seafood facilities in the area and vessels frequently use Captains Bay to anchor and wait for access to the nearby seafood and fuel facilities. There are also a number of private moorings in the bay.

There are at least six known prehistoric sites near the shoreline of Captains Bay, not on the National Register, that are important to the tribe and community. Additionally the S.S. Northwestern Shipwreck Site, a National Register-listed historic site related to the Battle of Dutch Harbor is 4,000 feet away from where the F/V Akutan is anchored, according to ADEC.


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