Nautical News: For the week of April 28, 2013

MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR URGED TO SPEAK WITH PRESIDENT ABOUT NEW FISHING CUTS

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is urging Gov. Deval Patrick to speak with his friend President Obama about the severe fishing cuts that go into effect next week. Coakley said that the catch restrictions ordered by the Obama administration will “essentially be a death sentence to the 80,000 jobs created by the fishing industry and a loss of $2 billion to the commonwealth.” Paul Diodati, the state director of marine fisheries, and Richard Sullivan, secretary of energy and environmental affairs, have also met with industry groups in recent days to analyze the best approach for the governor to take with the President.


FBI TOWS BULLET RIDDLED BOAT BOMBER HID IN

Massachusetts State Police towed the 24 foot boat and trailer the surviving Boston Marathon bomber had hidden in from the backyard where it was stored in Watertown. The FBI said the police were taking it to an undisclosed evidence storage facility. Meanwhile, the boatowner has suggested that all money donated for him to buy a new boat to replace his bullet riddled one should be given to the victims who lost their limbs. He said, “To buy me a new boat is a wonderful thing. I don’t want that, really. They lost limbs. I lost a boat.”


BARGES EXPLODE IN MOBILE, ALABAMA

More excitement on the water in Mobile, Alabama. This time firefighters on Thursday extinguished a huge blaze after two fuel barges exploded, leaving three people with critical burns and forcing the evacuation of crew from a nearby cruise ship. Investigators believe the explosions were caused by a cleaning crew, who were possibly smoking, while working on the barges tanks that last carried gasoline. The explosion comes two months after the 900-foot-long Carnival Triumph was towed to Mobile after becoming disabled on the Gulf during a cruise by an engine room fire, which left thousands of passengers without bathrooms or electricity for several days. The Triumph is still undergoing repairs there, with many workers living on board. Then earlier this month, the cruise ship broke free from its mooring by a windstorm that also caused, in a separate incident, two shipyard workers to fall into Mobile Bay. While one worker was rescued, the other worker’s body was pulled from the water more than a week later.


NOAA’S AQUACULTURE BUDGET INCREASES DESPITE SEQUESTRATION

While sequestration has cut most government agency’s budgets, President Obama has increased NOAA’s budget by more than a million dollars for fish farming. NOAA said the additional money would be used to develop a better food for the fish farms This flies in the face of fishermen who are still waiting to receive emergency funds that Congress approved after severe cuts in their quotas were imposed.


FLEET WEEK CANCELED IN NEW YORK

And in a related story, the U.S. military has canceled New York City Fleet Week this year due to budget cuts brought on by sequestration. Unfortunately, there will be no Navy ships in New York this year for Fleet Week and no additional Sailors or Marines to spend money in the big apple. Hosted nearly every year since 1984, Fleet Week brings about 6,000 Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen into the city to celebrate their service. New York officials said an estimated $20 million will be lost to New York City businesses as a result of the cancellation of fleet week.


COAST GUARD ADMITS TO USING DRONES

The Coast Guard has admitted to using drones to detect smugglers in the Caribbean. “Being able to see them and watch what they are doing even before we get there is giving us an edge,” said Chief Chris Sinclair. In the past, drones and other types of unmanned aerial devices have been used widely by the U.S. government for overseas actions. Although the drones can be operated at a fraction of the cost of the fixed-wing planes or helicopters, it is not known if drones will be used to monitor American boaters or fishermen.


LAST YEAR’S SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURE HIGHEST IN 150 YEARS

In a recent report released by NOAA, last year’s sea surface temperatures in the Northeast were the highest recorded in 150 years. These high sea surface temperatures are the latest in a trend of above average temperature seen during the spring and summer seasons, and part of a pattern of elevated temperatures occurring in the Northeast, but not seen elsewhere in the Atlantic Ocean. The rising temperature is affecting distributions of fish and shellfish on the Northeast Shelf. Four southern species, black sea bass, summer flounder, longfin squid, and butterfish, all showed a move to the northeast while Atlantic cod and haddock have moved to cooler water.


HANDWRITTEN LETTER BY BANDMASTER ON TITANIC SELLS AT AUCTION

A handwritten letter composed by the bandmaster of the Titanic sold at auction for $142,000. The auction was held on April 13th, the date the Titanic sank 101 years ago. The bandmaster became famous after he had the musicians played in an attempt to calm the passengers while the ship was sinking.


BLADDERS OF ENDANGERED FISH SELL FOR $20,000 EACH

Seven people have been charged with smuggling bladders from endangered fish that are caught in the Gulf of Mexico. Officials said the bladders are sold for up to $20,000 each to be used in a highly desired Chinese soup called fish maw soup. The bladders used in the soup are tasteless but are said to improve skin, fertility, and blood circulation – sort of a natural Viagra. U.S. border inspectors in Calexico, California have seized 529 fish bladders since February. The bladders come from totoaba fish that live exclusively in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. The fish are also known as Mexican giant bass or giant croaker and can measure up to 7 feet in length and weigh more than 200 pounds. The cream-colored, leathery bladders alone measure up to 3 feet. The totoaba fish have been protected under the Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species since 1976 and was added to the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 1979.


COUNTRY SINGER INDICTED FOR THREATENING ELDER CHARTER CAPTAIN

Last on today’s nautical news, 38 year old country singer Billy Currington was indicted on felony charges in Georgia after a 70-year-old tour boat captain said he was chased by the singer shouting threats profanities. The singer was charged with making threats and abusing an elderly person, and under Georgia law, each charge is a felony punishable by one to five years in prison. The elder captain of the boat said it all started while he was on tour cruising past Currington’s 3 million dollar home on Tybee Creek in Savannah, Georgia. The singer then got into his own boat and followed the tour boat back to its dock. The tour boat captain told police he had no idea why the singer was so angry. His hits include “Pretty Good At Drinkin’ Beer,” ”That’s How Country Boys Roll,” and “People Are Crazy.”


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