Nautical News: For the week of December 8, 2013

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SHRIMPING STOPPED IN GULF OF MAINE

Northeast fisheries regulators shut down the Gulf of Maine shrimp fishery for the first time in 35 years after researchers said the stock was fully “collapsed” and could be driven to near extinction if any were caught in the coming year. Board member Bill Adler called the report “all doom and gloom,” but the Atlantic States Fisheries Commission decided to wipe out the 2014 season, even though its Northern Shrimp Advisory Board had recommended a 175-metric-ton catch limit. Some researchers said that warmer water temperatures had driven away the phytoplankton that shrimp eat and attracted more predators such as hake which have contributed to the depletion of the shrimp stock. Others theorized that shrimp populations simply shifted to colder waters north and east of the Gulf of Maine. The decision to shut down the fishery left fishermen with a lot of doubt about the government’s science.

 

NORTH ATLANTIC RIGHT WHALE POPULATION GROWING

NOAA’s latest announcement regarding north Atlantic right whales thanks the protections provided under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. The acts call for speed limits in and relocating the shipping channels from known whale habitat areas to prevent further ship strikes. They say because of those acts and the high birth rates, the north Atlantic right whale population is growing 8% every year.

 

NOAA PUBLISHES NEW CHARTS AS A RESULT OF SANDY

NOAA has released an updated edition of the New York Harbor nautical chart to reflect changes resulting from Hurricane Sandy. The new chart shows new depth measurements and changes in the shoreline. The director of NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey said at least 24 other East Coast nautical charts must now be updated as a result of storms and a rise in sea level.

 

WWII JAPANESE MEGA-SUBMARINE FOUND

Researchers from the University of Hawaii working with NOAA have discovered a missing World War II Japanese mega-submarine lying 2,300 feet under water off the coast of Hawaii. The announcement was made just before the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The submarine, known as the I-400, has been missing since 1946. It was the largest and most innovative sub of its day. At 400 feet, it was 100 feet longer than a football field and capable of carrying fighter planes in water tight compartments. The story behind the story is that the U.S. Navy captured the sub and kept it in Hawaii to study its technology. When the war ended, Russia wanted the U.S. to share the technology with them in accordance with a treaty between the two countries, but the U.S. Navy, not wanting the technology in Soviet hands, decided to scuttle the submarine and then pleaded ignorance, claiming they didn’t know where the sub was. Now, 68 years later, the mystery has been solved.

 

HOMELESS MAN WITH RECORD STEALS FERRY BOAT

An 8 million dollar Seattle-to-Canada ferry boat was stolen and driven for 7 hours before a swat team stopped the boat and arrested the thief. Amazingly, the 33 year old man confessed to police that he did not know how to operate the vessel, but somehow managed to start its engines and break some of the dock lines and cleats as he pulled away. Because the man had a criminal past, he was wearing a GPS tracking device which assisted authorities in tracking him down. One official said, because of joysticks. electronics, and computers on today’s boats, this proves how easy it is for anyone to drive a boat.

 

WHALING SHIPS GO ON THE HUNT AGAIN

Whale wars are on again. The Japanese whaling ships have left Japan heading for the Australian Antarctic Whale Sanctuary. Just because the Aussies call the area a whale sanctuary, it means nothing to the whale hunters who plan to break Australian Federal law that bans the slaughter of whales. The Japanese factory vessel Nisshin Maru and an oil tanker used to refuel the whaling boats, also departed from Japan to support the hunt. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society will again go to war to try to stop the Japanese. This year, an International Court of Justice in Hague is expected to make a decision whether governments should join in the whale wars or leave the whale hunters alone.

 

MAN FOUND ALIVE ON WRECK AFTER 3 DAYS UNDERWATER

A video tape has emerged of the rescue of a crewman who survived for nearly three days aboard a sunken vessel 100 feet below the surface of the Atlantic. Harrison Okene was the sole survivor of 12 aboard a capsized Nigerian tug boat. He managed to stay alive inside an air pocket in the overturned boat that was lying on the bottom of the ocean. The diver who found him said while he passed over several bodies, a hand suddenly touched his head. When he went to move the hand, it grabbed him. The diver said he got a huge fright, but then realized he found someone alive. Once the person was discovered, the diver showed him how to wear a diving helmet. A line was attached to him, and he was slowly escorted to the surface. Let’s listen to a little bit of the audio of the diver finding the survivor.

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