Hold Aleutian Isle owners accountable | Letter

Editors Note:

According to the US Coast Guard, the responsible party (spiller) is liable for spill response and cleanup costs. However, because not all spillers have assets immediately available to initiate immediate response activities, the USCG and Ecology each have dedicated funding sources exclusively for oil spill response. This guarantees that immediate response can start without delay. Even when well-insured responsible parties spill, it can take some time before insurance companies make funding available for response actions.

The federal government has access to the Oil Spill Liability Trust fund, which was created under the Oil Pollution Act, and Washington State has the Oil Spill Response Account. Both accounts are funded by the oil industry through a tax on crude oil delivery. For Washington State, the tax is $0.01 per barrel oil crude oil imported into Washington.

During the response, costs are tracked and the responsible party is required to reimburse the fund that initially paid for spill response activity.

In addition to recovering response costs, state law requires that Ecology issue a penalty to the responsible party.

Additionally, when oil enters state waters, publicly owned resources are injured. State law requires that Ecology calculate damages to public resources and assess the monetary value of those damage to the responsible party. This process is called a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA).

Since the State of Washington decides the fishing season with the tribes, it is obvious that the tribes get preferred consideration regarding the fish. It is very obvious that with this privilege comes extra responsibility. They need to pay/be assessed/sued for the damage they have caused and the huge expenses incurred with the sinking of the Aleutian Isle The boat owners/Swinomish Tribe must reimburse the Coast Guard, the Department of Ecology, Washington Fisheries, the Whale Museum, whale watching companies, San Juan County and the taxpayers of Washington State to restore recreational integrity. We have been robbed, to say the least, this season of recreational fishing opportunities in the San Juan Islands. Those of us who follow the rules, (toss back wild unclipped fish on King or Silver designated days) have been coming home empty-handed after days of fishing. This sinking of a diesel-filled fishing boat, doing harm to the waters around the islands is the crowning blow. The recreational fishermen need to be given daily access to the fish, with daily limits as previously established in the longer fishing season. The commercial vessels potentially bring millions of dollars of damage to many arenas as seen by this latest disaster. Make the Aleutian Isle pay for this irresponsible occurrence. And they call themselves “professionals?”

Mary Metro

San Juan Island