The operator of the trans-Alaska pipeline and Valdez tanker port is reporting a shortfall in the number of fishing boats ready to provide aid in the event of a Prince William Sound oil spill.
State regulators require the operator, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., to contract with hundreds of fishing boats in Southcentral Alaska to be on call to help clean up oil spills. In January, Alyeska said it had 20 fewer fishing vessels than required ready to respond to a tanker spill in Prince William Sound, but the shortfall may have been as high as 33 vessels, according to an oil-spill watchdog group.
In Prince William Sound, roughly 200 fishing boats must be ready to respond to a tanker spill, according to the state's mandatory spill response plan for North Slope crude oil tankers. Alyeska revealed the shortage of fishing vessel responders to state regulators during an inspection in January. Since then, Alyeska has been on a recruiting push. On Friday, the company said its shortfall has dropped to five vessels.
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