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Spill from sunken U.S. fish boat off Victoria raises concern for endangered orcas

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Northwest division respond to the Aleutian Isle vessel oil spill on Mon. Aug. 15, 2022. U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Northwest/Twitter

The United States Coast Guard says commercial divers are assessing a sunken fishing boat that went down Saturday in U.S. waters and is leaking fuel not far from southern Vancouver Island.

The Aleutian Isle vessel is under about 30 metres of water off San Juan Island, roughly 25 kilometres east of Victoria.

A statement from the U.S. Coast Guard’s Pacific Northwest district says a Good Samaritan rescued the five crew members from the nearly 15-metre vessel, but it sank with nearly 10,000 litres of diesel and oil aboard.

The coast guard statement says the cause of the sinking is undetermined and divers are checking the hull and plugging vents so fuel can be pumped out of the vessel.

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Petty Officer Michael Clark told The Associated Press that a sheen had entered Canadian waters and there was concern for critically endangered southern resident killer whales last seen near the southern tip of San Juan Island but moving away toward Port Angeles.

The Canadian Coast Guard says in an email it is ready to assist as required while several other U.S. agencies are also helping contain any oil, track the trajectory of the spill and monitor for affected wildlife.

Lt.-Cmdr. Brian Dykens says in a statement that government and industry partners are working to develop “an efficient and effective containment and recovery response.”

“The local public, the environment and protected marine species are our top priority,” he says.

— With files from The Associated Press

Click to play video: 'Coast Guard crew rescues blad eagle in distress near Haida Gwaii'
Coast Guard crew rescues blad eagle in distress near Haida Gwaii

 

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