Harbor safety committee seeks representatives

The Cook Inlet Harbor Safety Committee is looking for stakeholder representatives to serve on the body, which seeks to provide a forum identifying, assessing, planning, communicating, and implementing operational and environmental practices beyond statutory and regulatory requirements that promote safe, efficient, and environmentally sound maritime operations in Cook Inlet.

The committee was formed by Nuka Research and Planning Group LLC, an environmental consulting group based in Seldovia.

Nuka Research Associate Sara Nichols noted that a person holding a stakeholder seat is representing an industry, not their employer.

“If somebody is working for (tug and barge company) Crowley Maritime, they’re representing the fuel delivery industry,” she said.

There are several current members of the committee who have indicated an interest in continuing to serve as their seats are expiring, but the group is obligated to put those seats up for any interested parties to apply.

“As a matter of course, we want to pool as many people as we can for these seats. We’re currently working on amendments to the harbor safety plan drafted in October of 2016, the first big action that the committee took,” Nichols said.

The managing board of Nuka Research will make the final decisions at its Dec. 4 meeting. There is a variety of stakeholder seats on the committee, ranging from commercial fishing groups, a primary seat currently held by United Cook Inlet Drift Association president David Martin, with an alternate held by fisherman Eric Velsko; an environmental organization seat held by Rachel Lord; and a large number of tug boat and offshore oil industry operators, cruise ship, recreational and small boat passenger operators, as well as port and harbor directors such as Homer’s Bryan Hawkins.

Perhaps one of the more significant stakeholders is the Southwest Pilot’s Association, a group of professionals tasked with ensuring large freighters and tankers safely navigate Cook Inlet through huge tides, shifting sand bars, ice flows, and numerous private and commercial fishing vessels either anchored with passengers or drifting with 150-fathom gillnets off the stern.

While the committee meets twice per year, work groups may see more of a time commitment, perhaps four times per year, Nichols said. The effort is funded by stakeholder groups.

Find more information, the current safety plan and how to apply for a seat on the committee at www.cookinletharborsafetycommittee.org/, or email sara@nukaresearch.com.

Cristy Fry can be reached at realist468@gmail.com.

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