Nautical News: For the week of May 5, 2013


NOAA Fisheries released its annual report on the status of stocks in American waters for 2012. The total amount of stocks classified as “overfished” dropped from 21 percent of the total in 2011 to 19 percent in 2012. In addition, the 2012 figures showed 90 percent of the known species of fish are OK – not listed as “subject to overfishing.” Furthermore, six more stocks, including Gulf of Maine/George’s Bank Acadian redfish and Mid-Atlantic and New England windowpane and yellowtail flounder; Washington Coast Coho salmon, and South Atlantic pink shrimp – were declared officially rebuilt, bringing the total number of stocks rebuilt since 2000 to 32. Despite the fact that three of the six stocks just listed as rebuilt are in New England, problems remain with codfish.


The severe cuts in the new groundfish regulations are now officially in effect. The reductions became official on May 1st, a day after fishermen protested at the Boston fish pier, calling for changes in the regulations. The most severe of the reductions is a 78 percent cut in the catch limit for Gulf of Maine cod. Fishermen who target bottom dwelling groundfish, such as cod and flounder, have argued that such a severe cut will put them out of business. They still claim the government’s scientists do not understand the fisheries and the regulators are using bad data.


The Coast Guard is investigating fake mayday calls received in Maine. They suspect the hoax calls were made by a man who has made more than a dozen other fake distress calls in the past 3 years. The Coast Guard said Thursday it’s seeking the public’s help in identifying the man’s voice. The Coast Guard has made the calls available to us. People who recognize the voice or have information are urged to call the Coast Guard.


The Coast Guard has also issued a warning about counterfeit fire extinguishers that claim to be manufactured by Amerex Corporation and Buckeye Fish Equipment. Both of these companies are major producers of genuine Coast Guard approved fire extinguishers. Counterfeit portable fire extinguishers pose a safety hazard for any vessel that has one on board. The biggest concern with counterfeit fire extinguishers is that their ability to extinguish a fire is unproven. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there are a couple of easy, identifiable features to tell if your portable fire extinguisher is counterfeit. Look at the labels and serial numbers. Labels on genuine approved extinguishers will include a security imprint / texture behind the UL LISTED logo. Makers of fake extinguishers simply print the label on the extinguisher. Also check to see if your extinguishers have duplicate serial numbers. These are two sure ways of knowing whether your extinguisher is legitimate. If you suspected your extinguisher to be counterfeit, contact the Coast Guard.


New England Boatworks, Inc., a Rhode Island boat builder settled its dispute with the federal Environmental Protection Agency over their alleged Clean Air Act violations by paying a $31,500 penalty and taking steps to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds from its paints and thinners used at its Portsmouth, Rhode Island facility. In addition to paying the financial penalty, New England Boatworks will obtain a Clean Air Act permit from the State of Rhode Island that caps the facility’s emissions of volatile organic compounds, VOCs, and requires use of paints and other coatings that meet low VOC standards. It was alleged that paint used by New England Boatworks emitted excess levels of VOCs, which can cause human health problems and also contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, a primary constituent of smog.


New Hampshire Fish and Game officers have two brothers in custody for taking two buckets of baby eels in the wee hours of the morning. The two are believed to be a part of an international eel-poaching operation driven by a worldwide shortage of eels. Baby eels, known as elvers, sell for $2,000 per pound or more and it takes between 800 to a 1,000 baby eels to make a pound. Most elvers are destined for Asian markets, where they are nurtured until full grown and then sold to restaurants and markets. One of the brothers was also charged with assault on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, and disobeying a conservation officer. Only two states on the Eastern seaboard – Maine and South Carolina – allow fishing and sale of baby eels, and both require permits.


In order to train for treating wartime injuries like those that occurred in Iraq, Afghanistan, and most recently in Boston, a video was released that showed the Coast Guard mutilated anesthetized goats so that non-medical personnel could deal with life-threatening situations. At the end of the training, the goats were euthanized. The animal activist group PETA got involved and said the training did not reflect battlefield situations, that the goats showed signs of pain, and that the trainees did not show any sense of urgency in treating the animals. Now the Coast Guard says it is training without live animals and in a report released this past Friday, the Coast Guard cleared its members of any wrongdoing, saying the training was required by the Department of Defense.


Maybe as many as 100 north Atlantic right whales are now swimming in off the coast of Plymouth. Marine biologists aren’t sure why the whales are moving farther west, closer to shore, and moving north in Cape Cod Bay, other than saying there is plenty of krill or plankton for them to eat. Whale watch boats are concerned because people can see the whales standing on the beach or on a bluff. No need to take a whale watch boat. The bluff at Manomet Point was jammed with people watching the whales feed the other afternoon. Environmentalists worry that the whales could easily wander into the shipping lanes between Boston and the Cape Cod Canal. Vessels longer than 65 feet must not exceed the ten knot speed limit. Scientists said North Atlantic right whales once numbered around 10,000, but seeing 100 of them just in Plymouth makes you wonder how many North Atlantic whales there really are. For years, whaling groups said there were only 300 of them in world, but these same people reported a record number of calves born year after year. Finally the number changed to 5 or 600 whales, but how can that be if 100 were counted just a couple of hundred yards off the coast of Plymouth.


And last on today’s nautical news, although rumors are flying that NBC TV’s host, Matt Lauer, might be leaving the Today show, he apparently won’t be standing in any bread line. As a matter of fact, Lauer just spent a lot of bread on his new Hinckley 38 foot long jet boat. How much bread? 1.4 million dollars. He was seen learning how to drive the boat in Sag Harbor Bay in East Hampton, New York, and then two instructors went on board to teach him how to dock the boat at the Mill Creek Marina. Lauer named the boat Resilient which seems to fit him fine in light of his TV show’s drop in ratings.

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