Nautical News: For the week of Januray 8th, 2012

RIGHT WHALES CLOSE CAPE COD CANAL

Two North Atlantic right whales swimming in the Cape Cod Canal shut down the canal for four hours. The whales were last seen near the Sagamore Bridge heading east toward Cape Cod Bay. Usually the right whales spend this time of year off the coast of northern Florida and return north in the Spring. Experts claim the whales are staying north not because of global warming but because there is an abundant supply of food for them. Once in a while the chase for food takes them into the canal. About 10 years ago, a right whale swam east to west through the canal and entered Buzzards Bay.


FIRE DESTROYS CAPE COD BOAT YARD

A fire destroyed a boat storage building at the Quissett Harbor Boatyard in Falmouth on Cape Cod. The owner of the boatyard was working in an adjacent building when she noticed the flames. Town assessors valued the building at $205,000, but the owner said the boats and gear stored inside the building were of a much greater value. Firefighters from Falmouth, Mashpee, Bourne, Cotuit, and the Massachusetts Military Reservation all responded, and the state’s Fire Marshal will be conducting an investigation into how the fire started.


MUSTANG RECALLS INFLATABLE LIFEJACKETS

Did you buy or receive an inflatable life jacket in 2011? Mustang Survival has voluntarily recalled all model MD2010 and MD2012, 22-pound buoyancy inflatable lifejackets sold in the United States in 2011. Mustang PFDs without white, sewn-on safety labels that are missing the MIT stamp above the CO2 cylinder should also be returned to the company. The inspection and repair can only be performed at a Mustang Survival factory. The company expects testing and repair to take no more than four weeks. Mustang Survival will pay for all testing, repair, and shipping costs. For more information call the company or go to their web site.


LEAD SINKERS ONE OUNCE OR LESS BANNED IN MASSACHUSETTS

Massachusetts recreational fishermen are reminded that as of January 1st, use of lead sinkers, lead weights, and lead fishing jigs weighing less than one ounce is now prohibited in all inland waters. According to MassWildlife, ingestion of lead fishing gear is the single largest cause of mortality for adult loons in New England. Also, the state reminds recreational anglers it is time to renew your saltwater fishing license.


DEEPWATER PROGRAM OVER

The Coast Guard’s $27 billion “Deepwater” program is officially dead. Rear Admiral Jake Korn, the assistant commandant for acquisition and chief acquisition officer, said the ambitious but troubled program to modernize marine and air assets that started in 2002 was now over and the Coast Guard will officially drop the Deepwater name. The Deepwater program began as a $17 billion multi-year procurement to produce much needed cutters, patrol boats, and aircraft for the aging Coast Guard fleet. However, the agency got behind schedule and costs rose to $27 billion. The 123-foot patrol boats built were rejected by the Coast Guard claiming they were structurally unsound. The Coast Guard now has a lawsuit pending against that contractor.


NEW ENGLAND FISHERY MANAGEMENT COUNCIL NEEDS HELP

The New England Fishery Management Council has some openings. Candidates, “by reason of their occupational experience, scientific expertise, or training, must be knowledgeable and experienced in ways related to fishery resources of New England.” The New England Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional councils that manage our nation’s marine fisheries in federal waters. Qualified individuals interested in being considered for nomination to the Council must contact and provide a resume by February 1st. For further information on the Council and the Council process, go to their website www.nefmc.org.


RECORD AMOUNT PAID FOR BLUE FIN TUNA

A Tokyo sushi company bought a 593 pound blue fin tuna for over $736,000, setting a new world record for the most expensive tuna ever purchased. The previous record was $475,000. The giant blue fin was caught off the coast of Northern Japan where last year’s earthquake and tsunami hit. An official from the company that purchased the fish said the record price was meant to boost the morale of fishermen who suffered devastating losses last year because of the tsunami.


PERSONNEL CHANGES AT NOAA

Eric Schwaab was appointed the Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Conservation and Management. He will be responsible for NOAA’s stewardship responsibilities, focusing on ocean and coastal resource science and management. Sam Rauch was also appointed to help Eric Schwaab as the Acting Assistant Administrator for Fisheries. Alan Risenhoover moves up to take over Sam’s former position as Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs.


MARINE BIOLOGIST CHARGED UNDER MARINE MAMMAL ACT

Nancy Black, a marine biologist who runs popular whale watching tours on California’s Monterey Bay and is often featured on PBS, National Geographic TV network, and Animal Planet, has been charged with violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act. NOAA prosecutors said she violated the law by feeding the whales. In her defense, her attorneys said her interactions with the whales were scientific research. All of the alleged incidents occurred within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, one of 13 ocean sanctuaries in the United States. Ironically, Ms. Black has worked with federal agencies on the study of whales, including the National Marine Mammal Laboratory, which is a part of NOAA.


NEW YEAR’S DAY MYSTERY

And last on today’s nautical news, it happened again on New Year’s Day. Hundreds of dead birds fell out of the sky in Arkansas and Maryland and tons of dead herring washed ashore in Norway. Scientists are shocked that the event that happened on New Year’s Day 2011, repeated itself on New Year’s Day 2012. To add to the mystery, tens of thousands of dead crabs came ashore in England and cows and buffalos died in Viet Nam. Fireworks were blamed for the birds falling out of the sky in Arkansas last year, so this year they banned the fireworks and the birds still died. As for the dead fish, scientists think a bad ocean storm drove the fish ashore, but no explanation was given for the dead birds in Maryland or the crabs in England.


About John Shea