Story and photos by Petty Officer 1st Class George Degener
Underneath a grey October sky that blended almost seamlessly with the waters of Washington’s Hood Canal, lines of orange floats stretched across the water attached to what are known as cork lines. These lines, attached to a fishing boat, are the upper extremity of commercial gill nets, set by fishermen across routes known to be frequented by salmon.
Gill net and purse seine Chum Salmon fishing opened for recreational, commercial and tribal fishermen Oct. 5, and is expected to be open for five-to-six weeks. From Oct. 28 through Oct. 30, Coast Guard personnel spent each day underway conducting educational outreach and safety boardings in three different Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife marine areas. Dubbed Operation North Falcon II, Coast Guard crews were active in WDFW areas 7, 10 and 12, historically the most active areas for gill net and purse seine fishermen.
North Falcon II involved personnel from Coast Guard units across the Puget Sound, including: the Joint Harbor Operations Center and Vessel Traffic Service in Seattle; Station Seattle; Station Bellingham, Washington; Air Station Port Angeles, Washington; and the Coast Guard cutters Wahoo, Adelie, Blue Shark and Sea Lion, 87-foot patrol boats homeported in Port Angeles, Everett and Bellingham, Washington. Operating under the tactical control of Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound, in Seattle, law enforcement crews conducted nine boardings, issued four notices of violations, and conducted Naval Vessel Protection Zone education for 16 vessels in Hood Canal.
WDFW Marine Area 12 encompasses all waters south of the Hood Canal Bridge and features views of the Olympic Mountains on clear days. Depending on wind direction, these waters also provide protection from heavy weather and excellent fishing expectations. Hood Canal is also marked by a traffic separation scheme frequented by U.S. Navy ship traffic heading to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Washington.
|Law enforcement officers assigned to Coast Guard Cutter Wahoo, an 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Port Angeles, Wash., conduct a safety boarding, during Operation North Falcon II, aboard the commercial fishing vessel Wanda Lee in Hood Canal, Wash., Oct. 30, 2014|
“Our goal during Operation North Falcon II was to engage local commercial fishermen about the importance of maintaining clear waterways for large commercial and Naval vessel traffic, while still being afforded the opportunity to fish,” said Lt. j.g. Benjamin Romano, commanding officer of Cutter Wahoo. “We also assisted the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in the enforcement of fishing regulations to ensure the local species remain abundant in the future.”
|Petty Officer 2nd Class Leif Anderson, a boarding officer assigned to Coast Guard Cutter Wahoo, an 87-foot patrol boat homeported in Port Angeles, Wash., disembarks a commercial fishing vessel after conducting a safety boarding as part of Operation North Falcon II in Hood Canal, Wash., Oct. 30, 2014.|