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

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GOVERNMENT PULLS FAST ONE ON FISHERMEN

The government pulled a fast one on fishermen. They just cut the quota on yellowtail flounder by 80 percent. Last year, fishermen on George’s Bank were allotted about 1,140 metric tons of yellowtail. This year, effective May 1, they’re getting only 218 metric tons. Under the so called “choke” rule for groundfish, once this new quota for yellowtail flounder is satisfied, fishing for all other species of groundfish must stop. Officials are again thinking about asking the U.S. Commerce Secretary to declare a federal disaster for the New England fishery. One fisherman said, “No way in hell will we survive, and the consumer will pay a lot more as the supply dwindles. It is the same thing the government is doing with the price of gas.”


RECORD DROP IN MASSACHUSETTS FISHERMEN’S EARNINGS

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released figures showing that Massachusetts fishermen earned $54 million less in 2011 than they did in 2010. That is a record drop in fishermen’s earnings ever since the bureau has kept records. Fishermen blame it on the new catch share system that was put into place by President Obama’s appointee, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, the head of NOAA and the National Marine Fisheries Service. Former New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang said the new system has completely destroyed the small boat inshore fishing fleet and fishermen describe it as a government takeover of the fishing industry. You see it would be easier for the government to control a few corporations instead of trying to control a few hundred or so independent fishermen


CREWMAN FALLS OFF BOSTON BOUND TUGBOAT

The Coast Guard has suspended its search for a 48 year old Marblehead man who was reported to have fallen overboard from a Boston bound tugboat named the Steven Scott. The accident happened approximately nine miles south of Newport, R.I. The Coast Guard broadcast an urgent alert to all mariners in the area and dispatched a motor life boat, a response boat, two patrol boats, and a helicopter to the area. They searched day and night and covered more than 775 square miles. It was reported that the seawater temperature was in the low 50s and that the man overboard was not wearing a lifejacket or survival suit.


COAST GUARD RESCUES 4 BOATERS IN SMALL BOATS

Last Sunday, in two separate incidents, the Coast Guard rescued four men fishing in Massachusetts waters as the wind howled as a n’oreaster approached. Early in the afternoon, the Coast Guard received a distress call that a small 17 foot boat was taking on water near Hyannis with two men on board. A rescue crew found the boat and brought the two men safely to shore. The boat was anchored on a sand bar and is expected to be salvaged. Then later in the day around sunset, the Coast Guard received a report that another small boat, a 20 footer, was taking on water off the coast of Fairhaven. A Coast Guard boat and helicopter crew responded and found the two men. The helicopter crew hoisted the two from the water and brought them to shore. A Coast Guard official reported everyone was saved and there were no injuries due to the Coast Guard’s fast response. He also credited the boaters with having the right equipment on board to call and wait for help.


ANOTHER SURVEY FOR RECREATIONAL BOATERS

This May, 68,000 boat owners in the Northeast will receive invitations to participate in a survey that will document popular recreational boating routes and define boaters’ contribution to state economies. The results will be used to make coastal management decisions and to aid business planning for the boating industry. Boaters will be asked to log onto a mapping website where they can draw their last boating trip on an interactive navigation chart and include information about fishing, wildlife viewing, or other activities they did during their trip. Boaters will also be asked how much money they spent on various boating related activities so economists can determine the overall contribution of recreational boating to state and regional economies. SeaPlan is partnering with the Northeast Regional Ocean Council, the boating industry, University of Massachusetts, and state coastal planners to conduct this survey.


RHODE ISLAND COUNTS ON MARINE INDUSTRY TO LEAD ECONOMIC RECOVERY

Government officials in the state of Rhode Island say that Rhode Island’s boating industry is key to its economic recovery. Rhode Island’s 400 miles of coastline is home to a number of marine related industries, with numerous shipping terminals, marinas, docks, and boat builders. No sales tax is levied on boats registered in the State. Also, the University of Rhode Island is recognized as a world class oceanographic research school and a growing high tech maritime security sector complements the Naval Underwater War College.


GROUP OF BOATERS TO LOBBY IN WASHINGTON

Employees from all sectors of the recreational boating industry gathered on Capitol Hill in Washington as part of an organization called American Boating Congress. Their mission is to meet with legislators to advocate on behalf of the industry’s 350,000 workers and 82 million boaters. They make sure Congress knows the important issues facing the industry and that recreational boating has a $72 billion annual economic impact on the U.S. economy. One of the biggest issues facing the industry this year is the sale of E15 ethanol gas because it destroys marine engines.


FLORIDA COMPANY WINS BID TO SALVAGE COAST CONCORDIA

And last on today’s nautical news, a Florida company called Titan Salvage has won the contract to salvage the wrecked cruise ship Costa Concordia. The salvage company will work with an Italian partner to roll the ship intact and right it before floating it to a port. One company official called the job one of the most complicated maritime salvage jobs in history. Rumor was the contract was worth about $288 million.


About John Shea