MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND HAS PLENTY OF BOATING ACCIDENTS
Despite Coast Guard efforts advocating for safe boating during the Memorial Day weekend, the nation’s deadliest boating holiday, there were several fatalities and injuries on the water along the east coast. An accident in North Carolina killed a pregnant mother and her 3-year-old son when their pontoon boat was struck by a passing speedboat. The woman’s brother was taken to a hospital with critical head injuries, and the family dog was reported missing. No one on board was wearing a life jacket despite a state law requiring passengers under the age of 13 to wear them. And in Maryland, six children between the ages of 9 and 13 and two adults were hospitalized with burns and other injuries after their 32 foot powerboat exploded just after leaving the fuel dock. And in Florida, a boat crash killed two men and left a woman seriously injured. Newspaper reports claimed no one was wearing a lifejacket in that accident. The Coast Guard urges all boaters to take advantage of free safety boat checks and to wear their life jackets.
MASSACHUSETTS ATTORNEY GENERAL SUES NOAA FISHERIES
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking a temporary halt to the drastic reductions imposed by NOAA Fisheries on local fishermen. Coakley called the new cuts in fish catch limits a “death penalty” to the Massachusetts fishing industry. The lawsuit contends that the NOAA violated the Magnuson-Stevens Act by failing to allow fishermen to collect an “optimum yield,” not using the best scientific information available on fish populations, and failing to consider the economic impacts of a major reduction in fish catch allotments. Coakley said she intended to seek an injunction to immediately halt enforcement of the new catch limits, and was prepared to take the case to the Supreme Court if necessary. She said pleas from the Patrick administration and the state’s Congressional delegation for President Barack Obama to intervene went unanswered. John Bullard, the Northeast region administrator for NOAA Fisheries, released a statement saying, “We know that the quota cuts this year for groundfish fishermen for several key stocks, including cod, are severe. However, given the poor condition of these stocks and the phased out approach we took to reducing fishing effort to help ease the economic impacts on fishermen in 2012, the cuts are necessary.”
ANOTHER SANDAL HITS NOAA FISHERIES
Another scandal is unfolding with NOAA Fisheries. This one pertains to the listing of Atlantic sturgeon on the endangered species list. Believe it or not it was done without a stock assessment. NOAA simply approved a petition by the Natural Resources Defense Council 15 months ago and put the Atlantic sturgeon on the Endangered Species list. After being questioned, NOAA has admitted that their action may not have been necessary. The agency last week published a draft biological opinion that in effect contradicts its original decision, and has now opened a 60 day comment period on their new finding. “The population seems higher than we thought,” said Allison McHale, special assistant to NOAA’s regional administrator, John Bullard.
BOSTON DUCK TOUR BOAT CATCHES ON FIRE
A Boston Duck Tours boat caught on fire on the Charles River in the middle of a tour, but everyone got safely back to shore. Boston fire spokesman Steve MacDonald said the fire was due to an overheated engine. A state police boat towed the pink duck boat Penelope Pru back to the launch ramp after the fire was out. An orange duck boat named “Back Bay Bertha” picked up the passengers and resumed the tour.
SEWAGE SPILL CLOSES SHELLFISHING IN PLYMOUTH HARBOR
Last week, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries temporarily closed the shellfish beds in Plymouth Harbor, and portions of Kingston and Duxbury after 500 gallons of raw sewage was released into the harbor from the Plymouth municipal sewer system. This was the third release of partially or untreated municipal sewage into Plymouth harbor in the last year.
BOAT FALLS OF TRAILER ON INTERSTATE
Massachusetts State Police are investigating an incident that happened this past Friday on Route 95 in Canton where a 28 foot boat fell off a trailer and came to rest in the roadway. The boat blocked traffic in the two right lanes of the highway until a crane arrived and removed the boat. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.
FIRST WEEK OF JUNE IS NATIONAL FISHING AND BOATING WEEK
The first week of June is National Fishing and Boating Week and 36 states are having license free fishing days for the week between June 1st and the 8th, except Massachusetts. Massachusetts is only allowing two free fishing days, with today as the second day. The free fishing days or day applies to both fresh and salt water. The idea behind the free fishing days is to give families and their friends an opportunity to share the fun and togetherness of a fishing trip or possibly to introduce someone to the sport of fishing.
NEW STUDY ABOUT GENETICALLY MODIFIED SALMON
The latest study done about genetically modified Atlantic salmon that were cross-bred with wild brown trout showed that the offspring from these fish grew even faster than their parents, and outcompeted other fish for food, potentially posing a risk to wild fish species. According to researchers, this study is the first to show that genetically modified fish that breed with other species have a competitive advantage over their human engineered parents and Mother nature’s wild fish. The study was conducted at Newfoundland’s Memorial University. Previous studies have found that when farmed salmon escape from hatcheries or fish farms into the wild, the chances of mixed breeding increases to as high as 41 per cent, jeopardizing the survival of the wild fish.
SAILBOAT SOLD AT AUCTION AFTER OWNER FALLS OVEBOARD AND DIES
And last on today’s nautical news: Remember last week we told you about a 1980 37 foot Endeavour sailboat being auctioned off up on Boston’s north shore by the Newburyport harbormaster? Police believed the boat’s previous owner fell overboard and drowned in the Merrimack River last winter. Recently the man’s body surfaced in the river. Nobody from his family came forward to claim ownership so the boat was sold on line to the high bidder for $15,200, but the identity of the new owner will not be revealed until payment is made. Proceeds of the sale will go to the city, and maybe some of the money can go towards the previous owner’s funeral.