BSEE and U.S. Coast Guard Investigate Allegations of Illegal Gold Dredging in Alaska
July 24, 2012
ANCHORAGE, Alaska- Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) officials recently investigated allegations that illegal gold dredging operations were occurring in federal waters off the coast of Nome, Alaska. In coordination with BSEE, a USCG helicopter conducted an aerial survey of the area on July 6, 2012, but found no gold dredging activities occurring in federal waters at the time. BSEE and USCG officials have notified local mariners and will continue to monitor the area.
"BSEE takes its enforcement mission and duty to protect federal offshore resources very seriously," said BSEE Alaska Region Director Mark Fesmire. "There are strict environmental and safety standards that must be met for resource extraction operations to occur in federal waters. We will be working closely with our federal and state partners to monitor these areas for any future illegal activities.”
During a recent visit to Nome, a Bureau of Ocean Energy Management official received a tip that gold dredges were potentially operating within federal waters without required approvals. Based on the results of a preliminary visual investigation, the official contacted the BSEE Alaska Region office, which arranged for Coast Guard Sector Anchorage to conduct an aerial over-flight of the area.
BSEE Alaska Regional Director Fesmire and Coast Guard Anchorage Sector Commander Scott Johnson worked closely during this investigation, and the Coast Guard has agreed to assist BSEE with future aerial observations and on-water support to protect resources on the Outer Continental Shelf. In addition, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, who have a boat and inspector in the vicinity, has agreed to assist in determining if any gold dredging activities are occurring in federal waters, which begins 3 miles from shore.
BSEE promotes safety, protects the environment, and conserves resources offshore through vigorous regulatory oversight and enforcement. The BSEE Alaska Region is responsible for the oversight of offshore federal waters around the state of Alaska and is led by Regional Director Mark Fesmire who reports directly to BSEE Director Jim Watson in Washington, D.C.