Port urges caution on the Bay of Green Bay after weekend rescue

Port of Green Bay warns folks to stay clear of shipping channel on the Bay
Port of Green Bay warns folks to stay clear of shipping channel on the Bay(WBAY)
Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 5:27 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - As Action 2 News first reported on Saturday, some 40 people had to be rescued on the Bay of Green Bay when ice they were fishing on broke away from shore.

Nobody was injured, but Brown County deputies say it’s the latest incident of a recurring issue.

Action 2 News obtained Saturday’s 911 call that began with the operator asking about their condition, “Is it like just kind of floating away slower?”

“Yeah, very slowly but the gap just keeps getting bigger and bigger,” said the 911 caller.

What started as a normal day of ice fishing for 40 people along the East shore of the Bay of Green Bay, turned into a real-life reminder of just how dangerous the ice can be this time of year.

Many of those stranded were not aware the ice was breaking off in the first place.

“We would have stayed a lot longer, but someone called out that something was happening,” said the 911 caller.

On Monday, the Port of Green Bay warned those ice fishing, snowmobiling, or ice boating to stay clear of the shipping channel of the Bay of Green Bay, as barge activity continues for the next few weeks.

In the last five or six years, the Port extended shipping until significant ice forms and keeps ships from passing through.

“It’s related to the port’s ability to handle petroleum products through the winter months, you know it’s a key piece to our supply chain and important to the economy in Northeastern Wisconsin,” said Dean Haen, Director for the Port of Green Bay.

The Port says they see ice rescues about once a year, occurring mostly in March or April, but this most recent incident was the first one to happen in January since they extended shipping.

As Action 2 News reported, authorities believe a barge traveling through the Bay may have led to the ‘destabilization of the ice’ before it actually broke off from the shore.

But Haen blames high weekend winds. He also confirms there are no ice-breaking operations happening on the Bay right now.

”They’re moving through what little ice is there on their own. So a ship is able to break 6 to 8 inches of ice on their own,” said Haen.

Port officials are making sure fishing clubs, bait shops, gas stations, and snowmobile clubs are aware of the barges coming through this month.

To see the current arrivals in the Port of Green Bay, click here.

To track shipping movements on Boat Nerd, click here.

To check out where ships are at all times on Marine Traffic, click here.

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