Nautical News: For the week of September 30th, 2012


In a surprise move, NOAA regional administrator John Bullard reversed his decision to close an area to gilnet fishing in October and November to protect harbor porpoises. Fishermen asked NOAA to close the area in February and March, but Bullard originally said fishermen had to be punished for not installing pingers in their nets to scare away the porpoises. Bullard reconsidered, and the closure will now take place in February as the fisherman wanted. Bullard said he changed his decision to shift the closure from fall to late winter based on observer data that proved conclusively the case that fishermen had been making. There were fewer porpoises in the autumn months when fishing effort was higher than in the late winter. In a fishery suffering a government certified disaster, Bullard’s announcement was applauded by the fishermen.


The New England Fishery Management Council approved measures that could allow groundfish fishermen to harvest healthy stocks of fish from areas that have been closed for decades. The 18-member Council voted unanimously to support further analysis of opening the closed areas with time limits. Final approval could come at the Council’s upcoming meeting on November.


This shouldn’t come as a surprise to Nautical Talk Radio listeners, but apparently it has taken the folks in the Department of Homeland Security in Washington by surprise. A new report from the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security shows the Coast Guard cutter fleet spends more time undergoing repairs on land than they do staying afloat. The condition of the cutter fleet was a major factor in the Coast Guard’s failure to meet performance standards for four out of five of its homeland security missions in fiscal year 2011. The five homeland security missions include ports, waterways, and coastal security, drug interdiction, migrant interdiction, defense readiness, and other law enforcement. The only mission rated a success was “other law enforcement,” dealing with illegal migrants and American fishermen.


There has been a bit of a shakeup in the town of Chilmark’s harbormaster department on Martha’s Vineyard after a summer employee was arrested for receiving a half pound package of marijuana that was delivered to the harbormaster’s shack. Now officials are investigating the possible theft of daily dockage fees collected from visiting boaters. On August 21, Chilmark police were alerted by federal postal inspectors that a package containing marijuana, addressed to the Chilmark harbormaster, was going to be delivered. Emmett Ross, 19 years of age, accepted delivery of the pot and was promptly arrested. He first told police he was accepting the package for a visiting sailboater, but eventually admitted the pot was his. In Edgartown District Court, the young man was arraigned on a charge of marijuana possession with intent to distribute near a park since Menemsha Harbor is considered a town park. An additional charge of larceny was also placed against him when dockage fees were missing. When police asked him if he was worried that the harbormaster would open the package, he responded that the harbormaster was never around. Chilmark Harbormaster Denis Jason disputed that statement. Meanwhile, two other summer workers resigned during a related disciplinary hearing after accusations were made that they shared in the stolen dockage fees.


Boaters in the mid west are fed up with the random boardings performed by law enforcement officials. Sometimes the same boater is stopped multiple times for no apparent reason. The boaters claim there constitutional rights are being violated every time a boarding is done without probable cause. Boaters in Ohio are seeking a change in their state’s law similar to the law the boaters in Michigan have gotten passed. Michigan’s law becomes effective November 1st. That law essentially prevents any random stopping or boarding of a pleasure boat displaying a safety inspection decal unless there is a clear, documented indication of an ongoing illegal act.


The federal government just released the 10 most popular seafoods consumed by Americans. The top 10 make up more than 90% of all the fish eaten in the U.S. The data also showed that the U.S. seafood market is now the second largest in the world. Topping the list is shrimp followed by canned tuna and salmon. Rounding off the list in popularity is Alaskan pollock, tilapia, pangasius, catfish, crabmeat, cod and clams.


Alberto Pina and his 3 year old son were fishing at the Carson Beach pier in South Boston when Alberto felt something heavy at the end of his line. As he reeled it in, the big smile on his face quickly turned quizzical. What he had just caught was a gun. Boston Police were notified and quickly wrapped the pier in yellow crime tape. They spent about 40 minutes examining it and taking pictures. Alberto said the day before he caught a decent sized bluefish, so he won’t the gun discourage him from fishing that pier again.


Law enforcement officials are investigating who owns a capsized boat and the marijuana that washed ashore on to a Florida beach. The Coast Guard found a 32 foot, twin engine, capsized boat with no name or registration numbers. After determining there was no one on board, the Coast Guard decided to sink the boat so that it would not be a hazard to navigation. They thought they sunk it, but it later floated ashore and then marijuana started floating out of it. So far, 150 pounds of marijuana have washed ashore and police say chunks of marijuana are still coming ashore.


And last on today’s nautical news, a fish literally gave a fisherman the finger. A human finger was found inside a fish as it was being cleaned. The finger was put in a jar filled with ice and police were called. Detectives were able to get a fingerprint off it and traced the finger back to a wakeboarder who lost four fingers in an accident two months earlier, a few miles from where the fish was caught. The detectives offered to return the finger to the man who lost it, but he declined. However, they said they will keep the finger on ice for a few weeks in case any of the other three fingers turn up, and the man changes his mind.

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