T I O N Transportation Pristine Waters
initiatives for Alaska’s
shores, ports, and
By O’Hara Shipe
With roughly 6,640 miles of ocean coastline, Alaskans enjoy the conomic benefits of its many
marine-based industries such as commercial fishing and tourism. According to the
September 2017 report “The Economic Value
of Alaska’s Seafood Industry” compiled by
the McDowell Group, approximately 56,800
workers are directly employed by Alaska’s
seafood industry which accounted for $5.2
billion dollars of economic output in 2016. Of
those employed, roughly 36,800 are full-time
equivalent and 26,800 are Alaska residents.
Additionally, the seafood processing sec-
tor includes an astonishing 169 shore-based
plants, 73 catcher processors, and more than
a dozen floating processors across Alaska’s
With regard to marine tourism, the impact
of cruise ships and ferries is evident by the
sheer volume of tourists traveling to Alaska
via its waterways. In 2014–2015, nearly 1
million visitors made their way to the Last
Frontier on large cruise ships and an additional 90,000 took advantage of the ferry
system. A major piece of Alaska’s marine
transportation picture is the Alaska Marine
Highway System, which serves thirty-three
Alaska communities from Metlakatla to the
Aleutian chain with their eleven vessel fleet.
In 2014, the Alaska Marine Highway System
reported $273 million in total economic impact after toting 319,000 passengers, 108,000
vehicles, and almost 4,000 container vans.
With a bustling marine industry, maintaining the safety and cleanliness of Alaska’s
waterways is tantamount to continued success. This ongoing effort in the Arctic Ocean,
Pacific Ocean, Beaufort Sea, Chukchi Sea,
Bering Sea, and Gulf of Alaska is a tremendous task that requires the statewide cooperation of dedicated individuals and a whole
host of programs and initiatives.
In early 2017, Washington state native Jeremy
Talbott assumed the helm as Valdez Ports
and Harbor director after serving as the
harbormaster for three years under former
director Diane Kinney. Talbott, who came
to Valdez with ten years of experience as the
assistant harbormaster at Friday Harbor in
Washington, brought with him a passion for
marine safety and cleanliness education.
“My staff and myself take the 24-hour
HAZWOPER [Hazardous Waste Operations
and Emergency Response] class, which is an
operational-level class, and then our seasonal
staff will take an eight-hour awareness-level
class,” says Talbott.
HAZWOPER classes are operated through
OSHA and cover a variety of topics including
hazardous materials recognition, decontamination, hazardous waste sampling methods,
and spill management and containment.
Although the certifications Talbott and his
team receive do not allow them to perform
high level decontamination, they do give
them the ability to spot a problem early.
“If there was a problem, we could immediately address it until the owners of the vessel
Valdez Small Boat Harbor, summer 2017.