Scandies Rose hearing day 9: “Race for history” may have played into decision to leave port in bad weather

The Scandies Rose hearing resumed in its 9th day, with a battery of experts familiar with statistical information on casualties at sea and training on how to prevent loss of life.

An interesting point came from Dr. Jennifer Lincoln and Samantha Case, who mentioned in a presentation on the statistical history of marine casualties that “Economic pressures generated by certain fishery management policies can play an important role in the decisions made by vessel operators to fish in severe weather conditions.” They mentioned specifically the “race for catch history.”

This is in reference to the ongoing rationalization of the Bering Sea cod fishery. Effectively, this would assign shares of the fishery to participating vessel owners based on a series of “qualifying years.” The 2019-2020 cod fishery may have been up for consideration as a qualifying year, and its short length may have motivated captains who might otherwise avoid poor weather to go out seeking future profits. Gary Cobban, captain of the F/V Scandies Rose, was a part owner of the boat, and the F/V Scandies Rose was on its way to fishing grounds at the time of the tragedy.

Counsel for the Scandies Rose’s owner asked Lincoln and Case if they have studied the motivating factor for boats that sank while fishing in poor weather, and they said that they had not studied that information.

Editor’s note; An earlier version of this story reported that the F/V Scandies Rose was “fishing for cod” during the tragedy. This has been amended to  “on its way to fishing grounds” for clarity.

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