Nautical News: For the week of August 18, 2013

LACK OF FUNDS CANCELS HERRING OBSERVER PLAN
A plan developed by the New England Fisheries Council to protect the important Atlantic herring has been shelved indefinitely after years of work devising it. The plan included an observer program in which the wages paid to the observers were to be shared by both the fishermen and the federal government. The environmentalists believed observers who went on every trip taken by a mid-water trawler would report thousands of pounds herring being wasted and thrown back sometimes dead. They also felt that the observers would see lots of cod or haddock inadvertently caught in the nets. The fishermen said the observers would vindicate them, and show that none of these allegations were true. However, John Bullard, the Northeast regional fisheries administrator for NOAA, said the government doesn’t have the money to pay even half the costs of the observers and the council should have known that before they voted.

NOAA CLAIMS NO NEED TO LIST RIVER HERRING AS ENDANGERED
In a related story, after an extensive study and survey, NOAA Fisheries announced that there is no need to list alewife and blueback herring under the Endangered Species Act. These two species are collectively known as river herring and should not be confused with Atlantic herring. NOAA said it will be working with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and other partners to implement a coordinated coastwide effort to conserve river herring and their habitat.

NOAA’S SURVEY SHIP AT ITS NEW HOME PORT IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
And still more news from NOAA. NOAA’s newest survey ship, the ‘Ferdinand R. Hassler’, arrived at her new homeport of New Castle, New Hampshire, and has already begun her first New Hampshire survey project of acquiring data to update NOAA’s nautical charts. The ship is named after Ferdinand Hassler who was employed by the U.S. government in 1811 to begin a Coast Survey.  Afterward, he became the first superintendent of the United States Coast Survey in 1816.

COAST GUARD PROPOSES NEW REFERENCE CODES FOR LIFEJACKETS
The Coast Guard is proposing to remove references to the type codes currently used on lifejackets. A spokesperson for the Coast Guard said the current labeling of Types 1 – 4 codes on lifejackets is not well understood by the public. Under the new regulations, the number and kind of lifejackets required to be carried on a vessel would not change. Just the terminology would change describing the use, purpose, and performance of each lifejacket. Life jackets that are currently Coast Guard-approved and serviceable are still perfectly safe to use and are not made obsolete by the proposed standards.

AMERICA’S CUP TEAM ORACLE USA ACCUSED OF CHEATING
The challenge for the America’s Cup is starting to get ugly as each team tries to get one up on the other. Things took a turn for the worse after the managing director for Team New Zealand accused Oracle Team USA, the defending champion and holder of the America’s Cup, of cheating after Oracle admitted they illegally placed weights in the bows of its 45 foot catamarans during the America’s Cup World Series. If found guilty, Oracle could wind up forfeiting one or more race wins in the best of 17 America’s Cup finals, or it could be thrown out of the regatta altogether. The latest developments add to the troubles of a series plagued by soaring boat costs, a scarcity of challengers, a crash that killed a crew member, intense rules disagreements, and one-sided races.

FISHING ATTRACTS NEW PARTICIPANTS
The number of Americans who went fishing is up, with more than 47 million people participating in 2012. What is most encouraging to the boating and fishing industries is that more than 4.5 million of these people said they were first-timers to fishing. That is a significant increase from 2011, and the highest number of new participants ever recorded. Also of significance were the increases in fishing participation amongst women and children.

ANCIENT LESSONS TAUGHT APES TO SWIM LIKE HUMANS
And last on today’s nautical news, a husband and wife research team has provided the first video based observation of apes that can swim and dive. They used a chimpanzee and an orangutan in a swimming pool for their studies. Instead of the usual dog paddle stroke used by most terrestrial mammals instinctively, the apes used a kind of breaststroke and kicked their legs. The researchers believe that this swimming style is due to an ancient swimming lesson. You see humans and apes must be taught to swim. For us, it is sink or swim.

About WATD Web Editor

WATD online and on-air contributors include, but are not limited to: The Associated Press, Precision Weather Forecasting, local news stringers and reporters, in-house news and internet media staff, Statehouse and town hall reporters, freelance reporters, special feature reporters/producers, and on-air radio show personnel.