Nautical News: For the week of March 13th, 2011

SEARCH SUSPENDED FOR PHOTOGRAPHER OF TSUNAMI

Off the coast of northern California, the Coast Guard suspended its search for a man who was washed out to sea while taking photographs of the crashing waves resulting from the tsunami thousands of miles away. He and two other men were swept up by the current, but the two others were able to swim back the shore. The incident occurred at the mouth of the Klamath River, which is a popular beach near the Oregon and California state line. A tsunami warning was in effect for that area at the time of the incident. That same area was hit by a tsunami caused by the 1964 earthquake in Alaska.

SECRETARY OF COMMERCE STEPPING DOWN

If you can’t take the heat then get out of the kitchen. Apparently Gary Locke, the head of the U.S. Department of Commerce who oversees NOAA and the National Marine Fisheries Service, is heeding that advice and stepping down. For months, Locke was criticized for his lack of oversight of the fisheries management people. In fact Secretary Locke was named a defendant in a federal lawsuit filed by the cities of New Bedford and Gloucester as they attempted to stop new fishing rules called catch shares and sector management. Secretary Locke received several letters from Senator Scott Brown and Congressman Barney Frank, but failed to act on them. He refused to respond to questions from newly elected Congressman Bill Keating. He also angered Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick by denying his request for an emergency increase in the catch allowance for the fishermen. President Obama is now expected to appoint Locke as the new U.S. ambassador to China.

SEAFOOD PROCESSING PLANT TO BE BUILT IN BOSTON

Boston officials have approved plans for a $70 million seafood processing plant to be built on the waterfront in the city’s seaport district. The proposed 350,000 square foot facility would employ up to 1,500 people and make Boston a full service fishing port. A viewing station built along the city’s Harborwalk would allow the public to watch the fish processing. Construction is expected to start before the end of this year.

PROBLEMS AGAIN FOR CHATHAM COAST GUARD BOATS

One of the two, new Coast Guard 42 foot rescue boats disabled by big waves five months ago almost made it back to Chatham from Newport this past week. Since last November, the boats were sent back to their builder to have thicker windshields installed. Exactly what problems the boat experienced while enroute to Chatham this past week was not clear, but the boat had to turn around and head back to Station Castle Hill in Newport. Meanwhile, the Coast Guard will continue to use big cutters and helicopters to patrol the Chatham area.

NAMES SUBMITTED FOR NEW ENGLAND FISHERIES COUNCIL

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has submitted names of two new people to serve on the New England Fishery Management Council. In a letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service, he nominated Laura Foley Ramsden, the co-owner of a New Bedford seafood processing company and Thomas Dempsey, who serves on the staff of the Cape Cod Commercial Hook Fishermen’s Association as its policy director. If Laura Foley Ramsden is selected, she would be the first woman recommended by a Massachusetts governor to serve on the fisheries council.

EPIRBS AND VHF GPS RADIOS PROPOSED FOR BOATS

Nautical Talk Radio has learned that the Coast Guard is considering a requirement that all recreational boats have an EPIRB on board. At a recent meeting of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety Systems, it was announced that the Coast Guard was considering mandatory carriage of EPIRBs for all recreational vessels that travel more than three miles offshore. An exception to this requirement would be for vessels equipped with a GPS connected VHF radio that stay within 20 miles of the coast. It was also reported that about 90% of recreational boats do not have the new digital VHF radios with GPS interfaced with them.

SCITUATE BOAT RAMP TO HAVE MAKEOVER

A popular boat ramp in Scituate will be temporarily closed for a $400,000 renovation project. The ramp is located next to the former Pier 44 Restaurant which the town recently purchased. The boat ramp is owned by the state and managed by the town. Scituate Harbormaster Mark Patterson said construction should begin any day and is expected to be finished before the beginning of summer. Several smaller boat ramps are still available for use including the one on the Cole Parkway.

MILLIONS OF DEAD FISH FLOATING IN CALIFORNIA MARINA

And last on today’s nautical news, a couple of days before the tsunami struck the coast of California, millions of dead fish floated into a marina at Redondo Beach. Officials said the cause of death is a mystery and wonder if it was a warning from Mother Nature about an impending disaster such as the Pacific tsunami. Tests of the water quality proved there weren’t any red tides, pollution, or other issues that could have caused such a massive killing. Another strange thing was the fact that the birds weren’t feasting on them. Authorities said it could take days to remove all the dead fish. There were so many dead fish that one environmentalist said she would never have believed that there so many fish in the ocean.

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