By Lisa Matlock
Lisa Matlock, center, poses with the Seward High School students and teachers in the bow of the Glacier Explorer. Scroll down for more photos.
I was a Homer resident for five years. Each spring I watched a fleet of fishing boats carrying noisy, funny-looking machines and pulling long orange and yellow lines around in circles near the Spit. I can remember asking, “What are they doing out there?” The answer was always, “Oh, that’s just SERVS training.” I never learned more than that until my first year with the council when I had the opportunity to observe that training personally.
For two days, I participated in classroom training with a group of fishermen and other mariners about spill safety, oil spill tactics, wildlife protection, and Geographic Response Strategies for sensitive areas. I learned about different types of hydraulic power packs, skimmers, and oil containment boom. Classroom work culminated in an all-day on-water training, with the fleet of local Homer boats out doing what I had only wondered about years before. Not only did I finally understand what the training was, I also learned more about oil spill response in three days than in my weeks of reading at my desk in the office. I decided that everyone in the Exxon Valdez oil spill region could benefit by understanding what their local fishermen and mariners were out there doing each year, and how their community is ready to respond in the case of an oil spill. And the council agrees!