Nautical News: For the week of January 20, 2013

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CONGRESS DENIES FISHERMEN EMERGENCY AID

Congress declined to give any emergency aid to New England fishermen out of the 50.7 billion dollar disaster Superstorm Sandy relief bill that was passed last week. The only money fishermen in the northeast will receive out of that relief bill will be 5 million dollars, but that will be distributed only to fishermen in New York and New Jersey. You might recall that Massachusetts lawmakers were asking up to 150 million dollars in assistance since the federal government declared the fishing grounds in the Northeast a disaster area.


NEW LAWS PROPOSED FOR MISLABELING FISH

Massachusetts lawmakers are proposing a bill that would come down hard on markets and restaurants that misrepresent or mislabel seafood. The bill, proposed by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, was expected to be filed last Friday. Any wrongful labeling of seafood could result in a fine of $800 and the shutting down of the business. The bill would also ban the sale of escolar, which is often mislabeled as tuna. That would make Massachusetts the first state in the country to ban the sale of escolar. The fish, which is often served as sushi, sometimes causes gastrointestinal distress. It is already banned in Italy and Japan.


COURT APPROVES SALE OF E15 ETHANOL

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied the appeal filed by the National Marine Manufacturers Association and others to stop the sale of E15, gasoline that is 15 percent ethanol. The vote was two to one with the lone dissenting judge claiming that there would be significant economic ramifications for American consumers who will be forced to use E15. The dissenting judge also said the EPA had clearly overstepped its authority. The appeals court decision means that E15 gas will soon be sold at all gas stations despite the harm it will cause to marine and automobile engines. Triple A, the automobile club, also supported the National Marine Manufacturers appeal.


COAST GUARD RESCUE PLANE FOUND AFTER 70 YEARS

A Coast Guard rescue aircraft missing for 70 years with three men aboard has been found beneath the ice in Greenland. The wreck was found lying on the bottom, 38 feet below the surface of the ice. The plane crashed on November 29th, 1942. The day before the same plane and crew had successfully rescued two of seven members of a B-17 Army Air Force crew during an unprecedented landing on the Greenland Ice Cap. They tried to do it again the next day and rescued one more crew member, but while flying back to the Coast Guard Cutter Northland, the plane encountered whiteout conditions and crashed. A U.S. Army aircrew spotted the wrecked plane a week later and reported no signs of life. The five Army crewmen who remained at the site of the crashed B-17 were airdropped supplies until they were rescued about six months later.


CATALYTIC CONVERTERS FOR BOATS 79 FEET AND LONGER

Boats 79 feet and longer are facing potential redesign issues after the International Maritime Organization is requiring these boat builders to install catalytic converters on their engines by 2016. Catalytic converters are hard to install because of their size. Some also question the safety of installing catalytic converters in fiberglass boats because of the amount of heat they generate. The National Marine Manufacturers Association is trying to get an exemption for recreational boats.


INVESTIGATION OVER FOR BOAT WITH 27 PEOPLE ON BOARD

Remember the story about the 34 foot Silverton boat that rolled over with 27 people on board last summer on the 4th of July? Three children drowned, one of them the boat owner’s daughter. The owner of the boat said a wave caused the boat to roll over. Many boating industry leaders thought the boat was severely overloaded, yet according to some formulas used to calculate a boat’s weight carrying capacity it wasn’t. The Coast Guard sets capacity limits on boats 20 feet or smaller, but not on boats 20 feet and longer. There is legislation pending that would mandate capacity limits on larger pleasure boats. In any event, the police investigation is over and no criminal charges will be filed. In a statement released by the D. A., the police investigation uncovered a unique combination of circumstances that led to the capsizing, but said the findings “cannot support criminal charges that require proof beyond reasonable doubt.”


TEN NATIONS BLAMED FOR “IUU” FISHING

NOAA has identified 10 nations whose fishermen engage in IUU – illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. IUU fishing represents one of the biggest threats to the U.S. fishing industry. It creates unfair market competition for United States fishermen who adhere to strict conservation measures. The 10 nations identified by NOAA are Colombia, Ecuador, Ghana, Italy, Mexico, Panama, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Tanzania, and Venezuela. These 10 nations did not comply with conservation and management measures required under a regional fishery management organization to which the United States is a party. If a nation fails to take appropriate action to stop their IUU fishing activities, their fishing boats may be denied entry into U.S. ports, and imports of certain fish or fish products from that nation may be prohibited.


NOT ALL HOUSEBOATS ARE HOMES

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a floating home is indeed a man’s castle and that no municipality can seize it under federal maritime law. The government of Riviera Beach, a Florida city, seized the houseboat docked at its city owned marina after the owner refused to move to make way for a new construction project. Under maritime law, the city’s officials considered the houseboat a vessel and towed it away, ultimately destroying it. However, the owner of the houseboat argued that his floating home had no engines and was not used as a means of transportation, therefore not fitting the definition of a vessel. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed saying just because it floats doesn’t make it a vessel. They ordered to the city to pay up.


GRAVES LIGHTHOUSE IN BOSTON TO BE AUCTIONED

The government is auctioning off the historic 107 year old Graves Lighthouse that sits about nine miles off the coast of Boston. The government offered it to state and local non-profits for free last August, but no one took it. Now it will go to the highest bidder who promises to maintain it. The five story lighthouse has two bedrooms and a kitchen and was named after Rear Admiral Thomas Graves, who came to America from England in 1628.

About John Shea