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Rat infestation leaves rogue ship stranded off Alaska

The ship was using illegal drift nets to scoop fish A rogue fishing vessel caught in the North Pacific four weeks ago was stranded off the coast of Alaska on Monday while authorities prepared to remove the crew and kill a large number of rats on board, a U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman said.The 140-foot Bangun Perkasa was found in early September using illegal drift nets to scoop fish from international waters about 2,600 miles southwest of Kodiak, Alaska, authorities say.A Coast Guard crew that boarded the ship found some 30 shark carcasses, 30 tons of squid and 10 miles of outlawed monofilament drift net, along with the rat infestation.The Coast Guard cutter crew, alerted by Japanese officials patrolling the area by air, escorted the ship to the Dutch Harbor area, where it arrived on Sunday, U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Sara Francis said.High-seas drift net fishing, considered highly damaging to fish stocks, marine mammals and other sea life, is banned by various international treaties and by U.S. law.The rats found on board pose another environmental problem: Potential invasion by a nonnative species that could wipe out large numbers of Alaska seabirds and other natural life.It is unclear how many rats ...

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Alaska Fuel Barge: Crowley Marine Vessel breaks loose in rough seas off state s west coast

Winds of 27 mph and 12 to 15-foot waves were reported A barge carrying tens of thousands of gallons of fuel has broken loose from a tugboat in rough seas off Alaska's west coast and was drifting south toward the Bering Strait.The tugboat shadowed the barge overnight after it went loose Tuesday evening in 15-foot waves and winds that reached 46 mph. The tug has been able to maintain some control by pushing the 173-foot barge, and crew members were waiting for better weather before attempting to reconnect a tow line, Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Kip Wadlow said.The Crowley Marine-operated vessel was carrying 140,000 gallons of aviation fuel and 5,800 gallons of gasoline. The Coast Guard, mindful of the amount of fuel that could be spilled, sent a C-130 airplane to the area on Wednesday."With the potential that this barge could run aground, the Coast Guard is working with and monitoring the Crowley tug crew as they attempt to re-establish the tow in safer weather conditions," Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally said.The crew of the 82-foot tug Sinuk contacted the Coast Guard at 6:23 p.m. Tuesday to report the barge had broken loose from its tow line about ...

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Obama hopes to simplify drilling decisions in Alaska

Industry looks to expand operations in the Arctic President Barack Obama on Tuesday called on federal agencies to better coordinate oil and gas permitting and other regulatory oversight as the industry looks to expand operations in the Arctic and as environmentalists ramp up their opposition.The White House said a federal working group, which will be overseen by Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes, will simplify oil and gas decision-making in Alaska by bringing together federal agencies to collaborate as they evaluate permits and environmental reviews.The working group's formation comes partly in response to criticism about delays in federal air quality and construction permits both onshore and offshore in the Arctic."Time will tell if this working group helps streamline and expedite the process, as I hope it will, or if it adds another level of bureaucracy and red tape," said Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska. "In the meantime, I commend the president for taking a positive step in the right direction."The working group also comes as a coalition of 19 environmental groups announced plans this week to uniformly oppose offshore drilling in the Arctic. The coalition - which includes the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, Greenpeace and the Ocean Conservancy - said the ...

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