Nautical News: For the week of February 5th, 2012

COUNCIL APPROVES EMERGENCY COD MEASURES

The New England Fisheries Council voted to take an emergency temporary step to avoid the disastrous cuts in the Gulf of Maine cod catch this year. However, even if this temporary action is approved by Washington, there will still be significant catch reductions in the number of cod fish catch that some say will put them out of business. The council recommended a 12 to 22 percent reduction in what fishermen were allowed to catch in the 2011 fishing year. If the council’s emergency step is vetoed by Washington, then a 90 percent cut in the cod catch would go into effect on May 1st, destroying inshore fishing businesses from the tip of Cape Cod to northern Maine. The council’s temporary action would allow NOAA enough time to do another stock assessment to see if there were errors in their 2011 assessment. In 2005 and 2008, NOAA considered the Gulf of Maine cod fish a fishery management success story, with the fish healthy and growing.


CLAIMS OF FINDING 3 BILLION DOLLAR SHIPWRECK MADE

Greg Brooks of Gorham, Maine claims he has found the wreck of a World War II merchant ship that was torpedoed by a German U-boat off Cape Cod with a load of platinum now valued at $3 billion. If his claim is true, it might be the richest treasure ever found at the bottom of the sea. The wreck, which lies in 700 feet of water 50 miles off Cape Cod, is that of a British vessel named the Port Nicholson. When it was torpedoed, it was going from Nova Scotia to New York supposedly carrying 71 tons of platinum. The platinum was intended as payment from the Soviet Union to the United States for military supplies. Brooks claims he found the wreck three years ago but waited until a federal court judge awarded him the salvage rights.


LOANS AVAILABLE TO HELP MASSACHUSETTS FISHERMEN

The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries is launching a loan fund to help commercial fishermen adjust to the new European style of fishing called “catch shares” that has been mandated by the Obama administration. A million dollars is now available to loan to small owner operated fishing businesses, so that they may lease or buy catch shares from other fishermen. The loan is supposed to help them to compete with the larger corporations that are buying catch shares. One fisherman said, “the government passes a law that financially cripples fishermen, and then loans them money to bail them out. Why not simply kill the law that is killing our jobs?”


MAINE LOBSTERMEN SET ANOTHER RECORD IN 2011

Another record was set by Maine lobstermen, despite the federal government’s claims made each year for the past 10 years that Maine lobster population was on the verge of collapse. For the first time ever, Maine’s lobster catch exceeded 100 million pounds in 2011 according to the Maine Department of Marine Resources. That beats the 2010 record of 94.7 million pounds valued at more than 313 million dollars. Lobster represents around 70 percent of Maine’s seafood catch in terms of value.


MASSACHUSETTS WANTS TO “BRAND” ITS SEAFOOD

Massachusetts officials are now examining ways to better promote seafood caught in Massachusetts waters and combat perceptions that the fish stocks are depleted. The Seafood Marketing Commission, a group comprised of state officials, restaurant leaders, and commercial fishermen want to brand Massachusetts seafood — the way Maine does with lobster and Alaska does with salmon. State Representative Jim Cantwell from Marshfield has supported this idea for years. State Senator Bruce Tarr said that Massachusetts should be telling the story of how sustainable our fish are and how important fishing is to the local economy. Many believe the best tasting fish in the world comes from the saltwater surrounding Massachusetts.


ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP BUYS AD ON SUPER BOWL

The environmental group known as SeaWeb has partnered with NBC to raise enough money to buy a television ad on today’s Super Bowl. However, the ad will be shown only on the West Coast. Producers of the ad said their message will “shock” millions of people, opening their eyes to the environmental challenges facing the ocean. On the other hand, it will also show how people rely upon the ocean for food, recreation, and jobs.


LAST PERSON RESCUED FROM ITALIAN SHIP TELLS STORY

The last person to be rescued from the Costa Concordia shipwreck off the coast of Italy was a crewmember who stayed behind to help passengers off the ship and into lifeboats. As the ship rolled over, he became trapped in the galley with a broken leg. He could see nearby rescue members through a window, but they couldn’t hear his screams. He was able to reach a couple of frying pans and started banging the walls with them. This noise caught a fireman’s attention and he was saved as the ship was filling with water. He was able to keep his head above the water by balancing on his good leg “like a flamingo” atop some floating tables and chairs. He also said that he was able to eat a panino sandwich and grabbed a Coca-Cola drink floating by in the water during his 36 hour ordeal. When a bottle of Cognac came floating by, he grabbed that as well and sipped it to relieve his pain. The 56 year old crew man said despite his ordeal, he couldn’t wait to get back to work on another cruise ship.


145 WATERSKIERS TOWED BEHIND BOAT SETS RECORD

And last on today’s nautical news, a new world’s record was just set for the most water skiers being towed by a single vessel. It happened down under off the coast of Tasmania in Australia. A commuter boat similar to the Harbor Express pulled 145 water skiers behind it for one nautical mile. Its twin 1,550-horsepower engines took 25 seconds to pull everyone up out of the water. The 145 water skiers, who ranged in age from 12 to 60, were required to stay upright for the mile to qualify for the record. A link to this story with unbelievable pictures can be seen on our web page, NauticalTalk.com.


About John Shea