New State health mandates will require much of Alaska’s fishing fleet to have a quarantine flag handy this season.
The “Lima flag” is not something most of them have probably ever seen in person. And the requirement is only if they or their crew members are coming from out of state.
If they have a crew member who needs to self-quarantine on board for any reason, that yellow and black flag (or maybe a Pittsburgh Steeler’s sweatshirt, if no quarantine flag is to be found) has to go up the mast to warn people to stay away for 14 days.
The details of how independent fishing vessels will have to protect coastal communities from incoming coronavirus contamination are laid out in Health Mandate 17:
“The time spent in transit from the final out-of-state port to Alaska on a vessel, demonstrated through a ship’s log or equivalent record, will count towards the in-state quarantine requirement state, 14-day mandatory self-quarantine period if all protective measures are followed.
“The vessel must report that it is undergoing self-quarantine, or has a self- quarantined crewmember on board, if it has any contact with another vessel, a processor, or a harbormaster.
“Vessels are required to fly a “Lima” flag or similar yellow and black pennant if they have any crew on board still under self- quarantine.
“Once the initial self-quarantine period after arriving in the State has been observed, there is no requirement to repeat the self-quarantine period when moving between Alaskan communities,” the health mandate states.
The mandate, which comes with other specific provisions besides the new requirement for a quarantine flag, will be reviewed on May 20, according to the State Department of Health and Social Services. The rule applies to “independent commercial fishing vessels,” which are defined as catcher and tender vessels that have not agreed to operate under a fleet-“wide plan submitted by a company, association, or entity that represents a fleet of vessels.” It does not apply to skiffs operating from shore, which have their own guidance documents. The mandate alleviates the requirement for independent commercial fishing vessels to submit a cumbersome plan to protect communities they visit.