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


Dr. Greg Skomal, a shark expert with the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Marine Fisheries, is still reviewing all the evidence made available to him whether the man who claimed he was bitten by a shark was indeed bitten by a great white shark. The victim was identified as Chris Meyers. He was body surfing about 300 yards offshore with his son when he was bitten on his feet and legs. He was able to swim back to shore after kicking what was biting him. People on the beach said that they saw a fin sticking out of the water just before they heard him calling for help and called the police. A recording of two 911 calls were released by the Truro Police department. This past Friday, Meyers was released from the hospital with his legs bandaged. He is expected to make a full recovery.


Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick just announced a new low interest loan program for commercial fishermen. It will be administered by the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries and is available to owner operated fishing businesses. Loans for Cape and Islands fishermen will be administered by the Eastham-based Cape Development Partnership.


Former New Bedford Mayor John Bullard will now be the new head of NOAA’s Northeast regional office in Gloucester. His office will be in charge of commercial fishing regulations from Maine to North Carolina. The 65-year-old Bullard said he can make a difference for the fishermen even though his backer for the job was the Environmental Defense Fund, the very group that fishermen distrust. It is also the same group that Dr. Jane Lubchenco, the head of NOAA and the National Marine Fisheries Service, served as its vice president. As mayor of New Bedford, Bullard knows the fishing industry well. He led the program in the late 1990s that bought the fishing boats back from the fishermen after the government granted them low interest loans to purchase them. He more recently has worked on a plan to zone the ocean, a plan that worries recreational boaters and fishermen. Bullard succeeds Patricia Kurkul, who retired last year.


NOAA announced that they will be surveying commercial fishing boat owners and their crews in 15 ports from Maine to North Carolina trying to determine the impact their regulations have had on the economies of the affected communities. In our region, Gloucester, New Bedford, Plymouth, and Point Judith are listed as the ports fishermen will be surveyed. Tammy Murphy, an economist with the Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole is responsible for implementing the data collection. Surveys will be mailed to approximately 1,700 commercial boat owners between August 1st and 9th. The survey is voluntary and seeks to analyze the operational costs among vessels of different sizes in different fisheries. Later in the year, another 800 boat owners will receive a socioeconomic survey in the mail, and as many as 1,300 crew members will be interviewed on the docks.


Happy Birthday to the U.S. Coast Guard. 222 years ago on August 4th, 1790, President George Washington signed the Tariff Act and created the Revenue Cutter Service. The Tariff Act authorized the construction of 10 cutters, designed to enforce the tariffs and trade laws of the day and to prevent smuggling along U.S. coasts and waterways. In 1915, Congress combined the Revenue Cutter Service with the U.S. Life-Saving Service and gave them a common mission of saving lives and upholding laws. This Revenue Service and the life saving service was combined and re-named the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard was then transferred from the Treasury Department to the Department of Transportation. In 1939, they took over the Lighthouse Service, and after 9/11, the Coast Guard was transferred into the Department of Homeland Security. The Coast Guard is the oldest continuous sea service in the country, predating the Navy by eight years.


Last on today’s nautical news, biologists from the New England Aquarium were called to examine millions of baby clams that surfaced and covered Nantasket Beach. They are investigating if a disease caused the clam die off. The tiny half-inch clams were everywhere and in some areas they were inches thick. Beachgoers reported that it was impossible to avoid crunching the clams underfoot. Hull Harbormaster Kurt Bornheim said that he had never seen anything like this before. He thought that the recent astronomically low tides caused the clams to surface and as they became exposed to the hot weather, they became too weak to re-bury themselves. Bornheim, in addition to being the harbormaster, is also the town’s shellfish warden. He admitted that what has happened isn’t normal.

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