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

SCITUATE TOWN PIER TO BE RENOVATED

The Massachusetts Seaport Advisory Council has approved $325,000 in funding to rehabilitate Scituate’s Town Pier. The commercial fishing pier, located off Front Street, hasn’t been renovated since 1981. Scituate Harbormaster Mark Patterson said 15 large fishing boats dock at the pier which is used year round. He said the pier’s pavement is settling and the pilings are worn. The announcement of the funding was made at the Scituate Maritime Center.


NEW GULF OF MAINE CODFISH REGULATIONS

The new Gulf of Maine codfish regulations for the coming season were posted by NOAA on April 2nd. A total of 6,700 metric tons of cod is the new quota for commercial and recreational fishermen for the 2012 fishing year. That is a 22% reduction from last year’s quota. Originally NOAA talked of 90% reduction in last year’s quota, but decided it best to wait until 2013 before making its decision. One of the changes in the new recreational cod fish regulations is a reduction in the daily bag limit from 10 cod to 9, and a reduction in the minimum size from 24 inches to 19 inches. The new minimum size is intended to reduce the number of cod discarded by anglers attempting to reach their nine-fish limit, and thus reduce discard mortality.


NEW SCALLOP DREDGE DESIGNED TO PROTECT TURTLES

Federal regulators now require boats that dredge for Atlantic scallops to use new gear that protects sea turtles by deflecting them out of the way. On Friday, the National Marine Fisheries Service approved the new “turtle deflector dredge,” which scallopers must install within one year. The new deflector bumps the turtles clear so they don’t get trapped or crushed. Some fishermen are unhappy with the new dredge design saying they are extremely heavy, more expensive to maintain, and cause substantially more fuel consumption. However, they are hoping they will now be able to work in areas that were previously restricted to them.


COAST GUARD SINKS JAPANESE GHOST SHIP

A U.S. Coast Guard cutter fired its 25mm cannons repeatedly into the side of an abandoned 164 foot long Japanese “ghost ship” that had drifted across the ocean after last year’s devastating tsunami that hit Japan. The scuttling of the ship occurred after the Japanese owner of the fishing boat was contacted and declined to salvage it. The boat had drifted across the Pacific undetected until it approached U.S. waters off the coast of Alaska. The Coast Guard determined the vessel was a hazard to navigation, and that sinking the ship would be the best way to manage any of the potential 2100 gallons of diesel fuel on board. It was expected the fuel would dissipate or evaporate very quickly.


SAILING TEAM PUMA WINS LEG 5 OF VOLVO OCEAN RACE

After 20 days of sailing through some of the toughest conditions imaginable, American Team PUMA won the Volvo Ocean Race’s fifth leg. PUMA beat Team Telefonica from Spain by just 12 minutes. Telefonica, caught up with the leaders after trailing by more than 400 nautical miles. They had to stop in Brazil for 17 hours for hull repairs. The other 4 boats in the race all had to quit this leg of the race. The French Team’s boat Groupama broke its mast. China’s Team Sanya broke their rudder. Team Abu Dhabi’s boat and New Zealand’s Team Camper’s boat both suffered hull damage.


NEW WHALE APP FOR IPHONE AND IPAD

A new iPad and iPhone app to warn mariners of possible congregating right whales can be downloaded for free from the App Store. The new Whale Alert app was announced Wednesday at a news conference on the Boston Fish Pier. The app displays the federal regulations that protect the whales from ship strikes, and uses GPS technology to display the location of the vessel as well as the whale zone. The app can recommend routes to avoid the whale zone and can show areas in Boston’s shipping lane where whales were recently detected by acoustic buoys.


MILLION PEOPLE WATCH “WICKED TUNA” TV REALITY SHOW

The newest TV reality program is called “Wicked Tuna” on Sunday nights on the National Geographic Channel. It follows the crews of five local bluefin tuna boats working on Stellwagen Bank and George’s Bank. Despite premiering last week the same time as the Country Music Awards, “Wicked Tuna” became the network’s highest rated Sunday night telecast this year with more than 1 million viewers. The show is as educational as it is entertaining, and hopefully will be beneficial to all fishermen.


APRIL 15TH MARKS TITANIC’S 100TH ANNIVERSARY

April 15th, marks the 100 anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Although the movie Titanic did not feature any stories about heroic dogs, some historians claim that it was a dog that saved numerous lives after the ship went down. A story written in the New York Herald on April 21, 1912, credited Rigel, a black Newfoundland dog, with guiding a lifeboat of survivors to the rescue ship Carpathia and barked to alert the captain.


NEW LOBSTER GAME COMING TO MASSACHUSETTS

And last on today’s nautical news, a new arcade game is coming to Massachusetts that allows you to catch a live lobster. It’s just like those games in which kids use a claw to try to pick up a stuffed animal, except in this game, a player maneuvers a metal claw into a lobster tank to try to catch a live lobster. The live lobster game has already proven to be successful in Florida, and is now catching on in other parts of the country. The inventor of the game said, “Everybody enjoys fishing and now you can stand in a bar and do it.”


About John Shea