Commercial fishermen from the Southern Kenai Peninsula are being honored for doing their part to minimize damage to the environment in the event of an oil spill in Prince William Sound.
Tom Barrett, President of the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company was in Homer Wednesday to present the President’s Award to captains and crew members from about 70 Homer based fishing vessels that are part of the Alyeska Pipeline Ship Escort and Response Vessel System, or SERVS.
SERVS was started in 1990. The idea is to have a roster of boats on call in case of an oil spill in Prince William Sound.
Barrett spent 35 years in the U.S. Coast Guard, fourteen of them in Alaska, including two tours of duty in Kodiak. So he knows a bit about the importance of being prepared.
“You always have to be ready and so one of the ways we would handle an event is by using fishing boats from the ports surrounding Prince William Sound to help us corral, contain and clean up any type of spill we have,” he said.
Each year in the spring, program participants undergo four days of training, both in the classroom and at sea to learn techniques for oil spill response on the water. There are a total of 450 boats in the program of various sizes.
“Depending on their power and their depth some of them we work more offshore and some of them would work more near shore, so there are advantages to both larger and smaller vessels,” said Barrett.
In the case of a spill, boats must commit to respond if called, within a certain period of time, usually 72 hours.
Alyeska has a number of different safety programs within the company, and Barrett says this award is a first for SERVS and that the community should be proud.
He’s going around to all the Alaska ports that have vessels taking part in the program. Other ports include Kodiak, Seward, Whittier, Cordova and Valdez. Homer participants were treated to an awards ceremony and reception Wednesday night.