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| Jun 6, 2020 | Alaska Fishing News

Concerns grow as more crewmen have tested positive for Covid 19 aboard American Seafoods Alaska fishing vessels American Triumph and Northern American. Following positive test results for 85 crewmen aboard the American Dynasty last week crewmen aboard the American Triumph and Northern Jaeger were tested this week after arriving in Bellingham, Washington.   Initial reports indicate 21 crewmen aboard the Northern Jaeger tested positive and there were four positive test results aboard the American Triumph.  Both vessels carry 110 crewmen.  The positive testing crewmen have been placed in quarantine.

Under Federal Maritime Law and the Jones Act the employer and vessel owner owes a duty to its crew to provide a safe place to work.  In the situation such as that involving the Covid 19 virus the employer must implement property safety procedures and protocols, testing and modifications to prevent crewmen from being infected with the virus.

Before starting their fishing trips in the middle of June American Seafoods reported they imposed a five-day quarantine on all crewmen and tested all crewmen for Covid 19 and only negative testing crewmen were allowed on the vessels.  Infectious disease medical experts have questioned the effectiveness of the shorter five-day quarantine utilized by American Seafoods, and American Seafoods has now adopted the more widely recommended 14-day quarantine protocol.

According to statements by American Seafoods CEO Mikel Durham American Seafoods “We will make sure those crew members in quarantine receive proper medical attention, housing, meals, and other essential care, and help them stay in contact with their families,” said Mikel Durham, the company’s CEO. She continued: “We have sought advice on how to improve our crew safety net. We have extended the quarantine before going to sea to 14 days, and we will require two negative PSR (nasal swab) tests before crew members can board or re-board a vessel”.

Federal maritime law governs medical and injury benefits for crewman working aboard commercial fishing vessels like the American Dynasty, Northern Jaegar, and American Triumph.  Under the Federal Maritime law doctrine of “Maintenance and Cure” the employer must in almost all cases pay for all medical expenses related to illness or injury arising or the result of a crewman’s work as a seaman work aboard a vessel.  Additionally, regardless of fault the vessel owner must pay a daily living allowance while the seaman is unable to work and recovery from this illness and injury.

Under Federal maritime law and the Jones Act a crewman who is injured or becomes ill because negligence or unseaworthiness of their vessel is also entitled to compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, pain, suffering and emotional distress damages.  Fish processors aboard factory trawlers are Jones Act Seaman covered by Federal Maritime law benefits for benefits related to Covid 19 virus.

American Seafoods owns and operates six state of the art Alaska factory trawler fishing vessel which target pollock in the Bering Sea and Pacific Whiting off the coast of Washington and Oregon. The company possesses a large percentage of the valuable quota shares for Bering Sea pollock. The company is home based in Seattle Washington. Bregal Partners is a private equity firm and is the principle owner of American Seafoods. American Seafoods is one of the largest fishing companies in the world. Their products are utilized by many fast food companies throughout the world.

If you work as a crewman or processor aboard a commercial fishing vessel and have contracted the Covid 19 virus contact Maritime lawyers Johnson Beard & Trueb 1-888-277- 0661 to learn about your legal rights to medical coverage, lost wages, and injury/illness benefits.  Never sign a release of your rights to compensation before consulting with an experienced maritime lawyer.