Nautical News: For the week of February 12th, 2012

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FIRE DAMAGES QUINCY YACHT CLUB

Fire damaged the Quincy Yacht Club located in the Hough’s Neck section of Quincy. A passenger on a commuter boat noticed the fire and called it in on his cell phone. The club, founded in 1847, is one of the oldest yacht clubs in the country. Although the clubhouse is often filled with members or rented out for private parties, the building was empty when the fire began in the morning. The Quincy Fire Chief thought an electrical wire wrap to keep water pipes from freezing might have been the cause of the fire. The fire department estimated the damage at $200,000. No boats in storage on the property were damaged.


IN COD WE TRUST

The New England Fisheries Management Council held an emergency meeting to discuss the Gulf of Maine codfish crisis. Although the government claimed the cod fish stock was healthy and rebuilt in 2005 and in 2008, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, who was appointed the head of NOAA by President Obama in 2009, now claims the Gulf of Maine cod fish stock is on the verge of collapse. Inshore fishermen in small boats dispute this claim, while the bigger offshore boats face no additional George’s Bank cod fish restrictions. Fortunately for the smaller inshore boats, the New England Fisheries Management Council voted a year long reprieve from what would have been devastating cuts in 2012, but fishermen will still face a 20% cut in their quota and up to a 90% cut in 2013, which would put most of them out of business. Cod fish brought in almost $16 million in 2010, the second highest amount behind Georges Bank haddock.


WINTER FLOUNDER STOCK DECLARED SUSTAINABLE

Here is some good news for fishermen. NOAA just announced that it is doubling the amount of Gulf of Maine winter flounder commercial fishermen can catch for the current fishing season, which ends April 30. New scientific information showed that the winter flounder fishing effort was well within the sustainable level, allowing the catch limits to be increased.


RESIDENTS UPSET ABOUT FORE RIVER BRIDGE DESIGN

A hearing was held this past Thursday night about the new proposed Fore River Bridge that connects Quincy and Weymouth, and residents had a clear message for state officials and the designers. Go back to the drawing board. We are not going to accept the design that’s in front of us. The state’s Department of Transportation hosted the meeting to gather feedback on its plan for a new vertical-lift bridge similar to the one that is there now except the new one would be much taller. It would be about 400 feet tall. Residents want a drawbridge like was there before, but the Coast Guard wants to widen the channel to 250 feet, a distance that would make a drawbridge too costly to build and difficult to maintain. The state has been working on a design of the new bridge since 2008, and if they don’t start construction soon, federal funds will be lost.


500 SHOW UP FOR COMMUTER BOAT MEETING IN HINGHAM

And the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority held another meeting about cutting the subsidies and ferry boat service affecting hundreds of south shore commuters. Last week was hundreds of people gathered at the Hull terminal to give the T’s general manager an earful, and this time a crowd of 500 people filled Hingham Town hall to save the boats. In addition to speaking with some of the commuters, I spoke one on one with Senator Bob Hedlund. We will hear his comments in just a little while.


DOLPHINS CONTINUE TO DIE ON CAPE COD

Marine mammal rescuers continue to find live and dead dolphins on Cape Cod beaches. Marine biologists say this has been the largest mass mammal stranding event in at least 10 years. So far, 160 dolphins beached themselves and nobody knows why. Of those 160, only 40 have been saved and released to deep waters.


NEW COAST GUARD CUTTER NAMED AFTER HERO

A new 154 foot long fast response Coast Guard cutter went into service in Miami last week. Its name is the Bernard C. Webber. It is name after the captain of a 36 foot Coast Guard rescue boat who on February 18th, 1952, in 70 knot winds and 60 foot seas, saved the lives of 32 men off the tanker SS Pendleton which broke in half and sank off Chatham, Cape Cod. The rescue is said to be the greatest single rescue in Coast Guard history. Hollywood is making a movie about the rescue. By the way, the new cutter Webber cost $88 million to build and the Coast Guard plans to build 34 of them.


GENETICALLY MODIFIED SALMON CAUSES ARGUMENTS

Three different consumer groups, the Food & Water Watch, Consumers Union, and the Center for Food Safety submitted a petition asking the Food and Drug Administration to classify genetically engineered salmon and as a food additive. They claim that the process used to create the genetically engineered salmon “substantially” alters its composition, including its nutrition value, so the fish should be treated as a food additive. However, the Food and Drug Administration scientists claimed genetically engineered salmon was safe for human consumption and no labeling, distinguishing it from wild salmon, was necessary.


OAR FISH IS THOUGHT TO BE SEA SERPENT

And last on today’s nautical news, a Florida couple found what they thought was a sea serpent washed ashore on Delray Beach. They said that it was very long and rolled up on to the beach in front of them. However, a Palm Beach Atlantic University biology professor said it wasn’t a sea serpent at all, but an oarfish. Oarfish can grow as long as 56 feet in length, and until 2008, a healthy one was never before seen alive. Only dead ones that washed up on a beach or sick ones swimming on the surface were seen prior to 2008. Oarfish live in deeper ocean waters, feeding off of plankton, jelly fish, and squid. Historians speculate that it was the oarfish that led to early myths about monsters roaming the seas.


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