Ice rescue highlights need for caution near Port of Green Bay

(GREEN BAY, Wis.) — The weekend ice rescue on the bay of Green Bay should serve as a notice of the danger on the bay this time of year. Twenty-seven people were rescued after an ice shove was created by high winds blowing across the ice and open water areas of the lower bay.

While the weekend incident was a direct result of high winds, port officials want people to be aware that shipping on the Great Lakes, including the bay, continues and additional boat/barge activity is expected on the bay and in the Port of Green Bay the next couple weeks.

“The port’s ability to handle petroleum products during January is a key piece in the current supply chain and important for the economy of northeast Wisconsin,” said Port Director Dean Haen. “For those using the bay for ice fishing, snowmobiling or ice boating, please stay clear of the shipping channel and other areas that could be dangerous.”

Ice boats from the Brown County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Coast Guard rescue people along the eastern shore of the bay of Green Bay on Saturday. Brown County Sheriff’s Office photo

The port previously posted advisories on social media about the U.S. Coast Guard and its icebreaking operations. Coast Guard officials recommend all recreational ice users plan their activities carefully, dress appropriately, use caution on the ice, and stay away from shipping channels. Recreational users should stay tuned to local media for the status of regional waterway closures.

Prior to each ice breaking, a 72-hour advance notice to the public will occur via broadcast notice to mariners on VHF-FM marine radio Channel 16, 21 or 23, as well as public outreach through media notification and social media outlets @USCGGreatLakes on Twitter and on the Brown County Sheriff’s Office page on Facebook.

Coast Guard waterway managers balance the needs of commercial operators moving cargo that fuels industry with those of recreational users enjoying the pristine natural beauty of our Great Lakes. Those who choose to recreate on or near ice-covered waterways may potentially put themselves at increased risk (near) still-operational shipping lanes.

— Port of Green Bay

By Rich Miller