Nautical News: For the week of January 29th, 2012

NOAA REJECTS NEW GULF OF MAINE COD ASSESSMENT

Dr. Jane Lubchenco, the head of the NOAA has rejected the fishermen’s and Senator John Kerry’s request to reassess the condition of Gulf of Maine cod stocks. In a letter to Kerry, Lubchenco wrote that a new assessment could not be completed in time before the 2012 fishing season begins on May 1st. Lubchenco has turned a deaf ear to the fact that the new cod fish assessment could be erroneous and will lead to economic devastation for New England fishermen. According to Lubchenco, Massachusetts already ranks third behind California and Florida, in the number of jobs supported by the fishing industry.


77 DOLPHINS BEACH THEMSELVES ON CAPE COD

A total of 77 dolphins have beached themselves on Cape Cod in recent weeks and have died. This is the second time in three months that New England has seen a mass of marine mammal deaths. Now, scientists are trying to figure out why. Earlier in the Fall, 162 harbor seals were found dead between northern Massachusetts and Maine. Scientists later determined the seals died of an influenza like virus, similar to one found in birds. Scientists are investigating if there is a connection between the dolphin and seal deaths.


SURVEY REQUEST FOR MARSHFIELD’S NEW INLET

The U.S. Coast Guard is also updating navigational information in the New Inlet Harbor area, and would be most grateful to mariners or boating businesses able to complete a navigation-related survey. If you can take a moment to fill one out, contact Chris Sparkman at chris.s.sparkman@uscg.mil.


FISHERMAN PLEADS GUILTY TO ASSAULTING MONITORS

The captain of a New Bedford fishing vessel Jessica and Susan has pleaded guilty to assaulting two federal monitors who were put on his boat to collect fishing data. Sixty-one year old Richard Wetherell of Jamestown, Rhode Island, now faces a $100,000 fine and up to 6 months in prison. His trial was held in federal court in Boston. He was charged with assaulting and intimidating and interfering with the duties of two federal at sea monitors who were collecting data under the terms of the nation’s fisheries law, the Magnuson-Stevens Act.


RHODE ISLAND FISH FILET LAW NOW IN EFFECT

Those who bring fish to a Rhode Island dock or boat ramp should know that there is a new cod fishing filet law that is now in effect no matter where you caught the fish. The minimum cod fish size in Rhode Island is twenty-two inches, but no fisherman shall possess a cod fillet measuring less than fourteen inches, and the fillet must have at least two square inches of skin left intact. The skin of the fish will allow enforcement agents to identify the species. Those opposed to the new fillet law say it will not prevent people from taking undersized fish, and they worry that it will lead to fillet laws for all species. They further claim that it will force people to filet their fish near boat ramps which are often close to swimming beaches.


PROPOSED OCEAN CAMPUS CENTER GETS GRANT

The proposed Ocean Campus Center in Scituate continues to move forward. Last week the Ocean Campus Center took another step forward in the form of a $100,000 grant from the MA Technology Collaborative. The Ocean Campus Center’s proposed location is on the Driftway in Scituate adjacent to the Widow’s Walk Golf Course. Its mission is to train more skilled workers to work in the marine industry. More information can be found at http://www.theoceancampus.org.


NAVY SEALS RESCUE AMERICAN HELD BY SOMALIANS

The same Navy SEAL team that killed Osama Bin Laden parachuted at night into a Somalian pirates’ camp and rescued an American woman and a Danish man who were being held hostage. Nine Somalians were killed while both hostages were freed. It is believed that the Somalian pirates are now targeting American victims on land rather than going after them on ships. Unfortunately, there are lots of hostages still being held in Somalia, including a British tourist, two Spanish doctors, and an American journalist.


SOLAR POWER BOAT CIRCUMNAVIGATES GLOBE

The 100 foot long Swiss built solar powered boat, Tûranor PlanetSolar, is about to become the first solar powered boat to go around the world, and they are doing it the long way, staying close to the equator. That is because of the abundance sun light necessary to charge the boat’s batteries. It departed 18 months ago from Monaco, Spain. The boat has made stops in Miami, Panama, the Galapagos, Hong Kong, and most recently, Abu Dhabi. So what’s taking so long to go around the world? Well, aside from the numerous port stops, the boat’s optimal speed is only about six miles per hour. While top speed is 16 miles per hour, the crew attempts to maintain the lower speed to conserve the ship’s power. The Turanor – which takes its name from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel The Lord of the Rings and translates to “The Power of the Sun” – gets its energy from more than 5780 square feet of solar panels which powers its 127 horsepower twin engines.


NO RECORD FOR YOUNGEST SAILOR TO GO AROUND WORLD

Sixteen year old Laura Dekker of Holland completed her solo circumnavigation aboard her 38 foot sailboat named Guppy, making her arguably the youngest sailor ever to so do. She finished the voyage in one year and one day. Unlike Australian Jessica Watson, who was a few months older when she finished her circumnavigation non-stop in 2010, Dekker stopped in ports along the way. However, Guinness World Records, will not recognize or authenticate the young sailor’s record. You see, to discourage a younger sailor from trying to set a world record, risking his or her life, Guiness World Records no longer recognizes records set by “youngest” sailors.


BOAT LOST 3 YEARS AGO OFF CAPE COD FOUND IN SPAIN

And last on today’s nautical news, the hull of a 26 foot center console boat named the Queen Bee was found off the coast of Spain after it vanished nearly 3 years ago off the coast of Nantucket. Back then, the two men on board were knocked overboard by a wave and swam a mile to shore as the boat motored away. Based on data collected from buoys used to track icebergs, Coast Guard officials believe the 26 foot pleasure boat made its fantastic 3500 mile voyage from the coast of Massachusetts by drifting into the Gulf Stream and then north to the North Atlantic current before heading east to where it was discovered capsized off Spain’s coast. It was intact but covered in rust and barnacles. A Coast Guard chief petty officer from the 1st Coast Guard District in Boston, said that finding parts of boats or other debris floating in the water is fairly common, but for a boat to stay intact and stay afloat for that long is somewhat amazing.

About John Shea