Nautical News: For the week of July 14, 2013

SUPERINTENDENT OF BOSTON HARBOR ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK RESIGNS

Nautical Talk Radio has learned that the head of the Boston Harbor Islands National park is stepping down from that position. Superintendent Bruce Jacobson’s last day on the job was this past Friday. Taking over his position as acting superintendent will be Kelly Fellner. She previously served the National Park Service as its Northeast Regional Office, Youth, and Volunteer Coordinator.


SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY SUBMITS RESIGNATION

And Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, announced that she is stepping down as head of that agency in September. The Department of Homeland Security is the parent agency for the Coast Guard. She said she will no longer consider another cabinet position like the Attorney General’s office or for that matter any political office in Washington. Instead she will assume the position as the head of California’s University system.


FISHERMEN UNHAPPY WITH RULES TO OPEN CLOSED AREAS

NOAA Fisheries is considering opening parts of Georges Bank and the Nantucket Lightship Area to groundfishing after closing those areas nearly 20 years ago. However, NOAA wants fishermen to take a federal observer with them and pay each observer $600 a day. Fishermen say they couldn’t catch enough fish to pay for the observer, and if they did catch that many fish, the price of the fish they would receive would go down. Another federal regulation would require boats to have special gear to allow cod and porpoises to escape while fishing in those areas.


ALLIANCE TO PROTECT NANTUCKET SOUND SUES COAST GUARD

The Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound filed a lawsuit against the Coast Guard, claiming the agency failed to respond to their two year old request under the freedom of information act for public records pertaining to the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm known as Cape Wind. The alliance wants to determine if the Coast Guard, like the Federal Aviation Administration, was under political pressure to go easy on Cape Wind after hearing that President Obama exerted influence on the FAA to approve the project. Opponents to Cape Wind argue that the project is too expensive and will harm the environment, tourism, and be a hazard to navigation in and around the Sound. Supporters of the project claim it will alleviate global warming.


KENNEDY BROTHERS FREE ENTANGLED LEATHERBACK TURTLE

Max Kennedy and his brother Robert F. Kennedy Jr. reported that they freed an entangled leatherback sea turtle they came across while sailing on Nantucket Sound. They claimed the turtle was fighting for its life after becoming entangled in a buoy line that had broken free from a lobster pot, so they both jumped into the water to cut the rope off. A video tape was made of the rescue. The problem is leatherback turtles are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, so it is illegal for anyone to handle or help them without a permit. However, Robert Kennedy said he and his brother are licensed wildlife rehabilitators, and said there was no time to call officials to alert them of the entanglement. NOAA and the National Marine Fisheries Service are now investigating this incident. A spokesperson for a permitted disentanglement team said this is exactly what we don’t want the public to do. It puts the animal’s life and the rescuer’s life in danger. A leatherback turtle can easily pull a human under the water and hold its breath for up to 45 minutes. Meanwhile, the Kennedys told a reporter that no one from the government has contacted them.


34 FOOT CABIN CRUISER CAPSIZED DUE TO OVERLOADED CONDITIONS

Remember the story last July about the 34 foot cabin cruiser with 27 people on board that rolled over in New York’s Oyster Bay killing three children? The owner of the boat blamed waves from passing boats for causing the accident. However, a 52 page report prepared by a marine engineering expert for the District Attorney’s office claimed the boat capsized because it was overloaded with too many people on board. It was an accident waiting to happen. Even so, the District Attorney said no criminal charges would be filed, because federal boating regulations do not require capacity limits for vessels 20 feet and longer. In other words, there is no law against stupidity. The Coast Guard sets capacity limits on boats 20 feet or smaller, but common sense must be used for boats 20 feet and longer.


ETHANOL PRODUCTION CAUSES DEAD ZONE IN GULF OF MEXICO

The Gulf of Mexico may be far from the corn fields in the midwest that produce ethanol, but NOAA scientists claim that it is those fields that are causing a dead zone along the gulf coast. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts a record-size “dead zone” to form in the Gulf of Mexico this summer, stretching from South Texas all the way to Alabama. The dead zone is caused by nitrogen based fertilizer washing off the corn fields in the Midwest into the Mississippi River, which flows into the Gulf. Just as nitrogen based fertilizer makes corn grow, it also stimulates the growth of algae in the water, and when the algae dies and decays, it removes oxygen from the water resulting in water that can’t support marine life.


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