Nautical News: For the week of August 19th, 2012

MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR AGAIN SEEKS FEDERAL AID FOR FISHERMEN

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has joined that state’s congressional delegation in seeking federal disaster aid for commercial fishermen. This is the second time the Governor has made such a request. He originally requested the fishery disaster declaration in November of 2011 and at that time was promised an answer “soon” by Dr. Jane Lubchenco, the head of NOAA and the National Marine Fisheries Service. Governor Patrick also emphasized that the current crisis with the fish stock, “is not the fault of our fisherman” who have been following the federal fisheries management plans for years. It has become apparent that the problem of managing the fish has more to do with the regulations upsetting the balance of Mother Nature than it has to with fishing effort. Even John Bullard, the new head of the Northeast Fisheries Regional office said, “there’s something else going on beside fishing effort.” Legislators in their request for federal aid have said that fishermen who risk their lives to put food on Americans’ tables should be treated the same way as farmers.


MORE FISH FOUND WITH RED SPOTS

Warming water temperatures might be causing an increase in the number of striped bass that have lesions from a viral or bacterial infection, according to the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. While the number of infected fish is estimated at less than 5 percent of those landed along the entire Massachusetts coastline, the infection rate is higher in fish caught in the Cape Cod Canal and in Buzzards Bay. So far, there is no evidence of the disease mycobacteriosis that has infected the striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay, but fishermen are still urged to use caution in handling fish with sores or lesions.


FISHERMAN SUES GOVERNMENT FOR MILLIONS OF DOLLARS

A former New Bedford scalloper is suing the federal government for millions of dollars because of abuses and excessive and unfair penalties imposed upon him by NOAA and the National Marine Fisheries Service. The lawsuit seeks reimbursement for lost wages, lost property, and emotional damages. Last year, the federal government refunded to him $400,000 in fines that he had paid and also sent him letters of apology from top federal officials. However, the fisherman said that didn’t make up for the malicious and abusive prosecution he suffered that forced him out of business.


WINTHROP HARBORMASTER VIOLATED CONFLICT OF INTEREST LAW

The Massachusetts Ethics Commission ruled that Winthrop Harbormaster Charles Famolare, III violated the state’s conflict of interest law in 2007, by receiving at no charge, two finger piers plus free installation at his waterfront home from the contractor who was awarded the contract to build Winthrop’s new town pier. The Ethics Commission just ordered Famolare to pay a $2,000 civil penalty. Famolare has 30 days to pay the penalty or file an appeal with the Superior Court. He was placed on paid administrative leave a little more than a year ago.


SUNFISH MISTAKEN FOR WHALE

Beachgoers in Duxbury were told to stay out of the water after reports of a whale or a shark was swimming near shore. The Duxbury Harbormaster Department investigated and determined the creature with a fin sticking above the surface was a harmless sunfish. Sunfish are the heaviest known bony fish in the world. An average adult can literally weigh a ton living on a diet mainly jellyfish. Reports of a sunfish were also reported in Hull and Cohasset.


DOLPHINS BEACH THEMSELVES ON CAPE COD

Eight dolphins beached themselves in Wellfleet, Cape Cod. One of the animals died, but the seven others were alive. Rescuers were hoping to coax the seven back to sea during the next high tide. Boaters and paddlers prevented another group of dolphins from landing on the beach earlier in the day. It is still a mystery why the animals beach themselves, especially when some of them are young and healthy.


WOMAN FALLS WHILE PARASAILING AND DIES

Tragedy struck a Connecticut couple on vacation in Florida. A 28 year old female convinced her 31 year old husband to take her parasailing, something she always wanted to do and had never done. Flying about 200 feet high over the ocean in a tandem harness with her husband, the woman somehow slipped out of her safety harness and fell into the sea. The crew members aboard the tow boat reeled the man in and circled back to pick up the woman who was lying face down in the water. Sadly she could not be revived. Officials are investigating what happened, but so far have determined that there was nothing wrong with the safety harness.


OBAMA DELAYS RELEASE OF FINAL OCEAN ZONING PLAN

The Obama administration reported that the final version of the president’s National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan to zone the ocean will not be released this week as originally expected. The final plan will be released to the public later, possibly after the election. President Obama passed the National Ocean Policy by executive order two years, prompting the director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance to say that the President was behaving more like a king, making legislation by executive order rather than legislative debate. Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings said that “Congress and the American public are still left questioning the legal justification, the regulatory burdens, the funding sources, and the economic impacts of Obama’s National Ocean Policy.”


COAST GUARD LOCKING DOWN BRIDGES NEAR REPUBLICAN CONVENTION

The Coast Guard will be securing 15 Tampa Bay area bridges before and during the Republican National Convention keeping them locked in the down position. The restriction will affect any vessel that would require a bridge opening. The restriction is not just for security reasons. It is also for the benefit of the conventioneers to ensure that they will not be delayed because of a bridge opening.


TV’s SCI-FI CHANNEL RETURNS TO USS SALEM

And last on today’s nautical news, TV’s Sci-FI Channel series Ghost Hunters International will be returning to the USS Salem on Friday, September 7. The ship is docked at the former Quincy Shipyard where she was built. In 2008, a team from Mass Paranormal reported high-level “activity” on the ship after unexplained noises and ghost like appearances were reported on the ship. The TV show will use infrared cameras and parabolic microphones to hunt for spirits.


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