Nautical News: For the week of February 23, 2014

BOAT SHOW OPENS IN BOSTON

The Progressive Insurance New England Boat Show, the region’s largest boat show, opened yesterday, February 22nd, for a nine-day run. This is Boston’s 59th annual boat show. Show officials said they have more exhibitors this year than they have had in the past 6 years. About 50,000 people are expected to view the 800 plus boats that are on display.

 

BOAT SINKS AT DOCK IN BOSTON HARBOR

A 49-foot boat sank at the dock at the Constitution Marina in Boston harbor. Although the boat was used as a home for the past 7 years, the owners and their dog were away on vacation, so no one was on board. The boat’s 4 inch port exhaust pipe burst from water freezing inside it, allowing sea water to fill the boat.

 

POLICE CHIEF AND HARBORMASTER AT ODDS IN CHATHAM

Another Massachusetts community is suffering from a power struggle between the town’s police department and its harbormaster department. This one is Chatham Cape Cod where it has been two months since Chatham Harbormaster Stuart Smith was put on paid administrative leave without any word about his fate or the status of the investigation into his conduct on the job. The town’s Police Chief, who is in charge of the investigation, declined comment saying it was a personnel matter, but not one of a criminal nature. The harbormaster’s department was moved last year into the Police Department, and when the town manager went on Christmas vacation, the police chief who was left in charge put the harbormaster on paid administrative leave. Local fishermen said it is all about money and power. Now, the Chatham Municipal Employees Union has entered into the fray and has filed a charge of a prohibited practice with the state Department of Labor Relations in February 2013. Coincidentally, the Chatham’s harbormaster is president of that union, but a state labor relations investigator has already found probable cause that the Chatham police chief has committed a violation. Unfortunately, taxpayers are the ones who ultimately have to pay for these battles and lawsuits.

 

JONES ACT BLAMED FOR LACK OF SALT SHIPMENTS

With all the snow storms that have hit the northeast this year, many cities and towns are low on road salt. The Jones Act, a maritime law that was passed in 1920, is being blamed for the shortage. The Jones Act requires cargo ships to be built in the United States if they are to deliver goods from one U.S. city to another. Since there is now a major shortage of shipyards and ships built in the U.S., shipments of salt are hindered, especially if the first delivery is made in Maine. Officials in New Jersey said a foreign-flagged ship could deliver 40,000 tons of salt from Maine within two days, but the Jones Act is preventing it. It is hoped a delivery of salt by a U.S. flagged ship and crew will happen before the state is hit with more snow and ice.

 

NOAA ADMITS WORKLOAD CAUSES SCIENCE TO LAG BEHIND

For years fishermen have said that the government has used bad science in determining its fisheries management policies. Now, NOAA Fisheries admits that because they manage more than 470 fish stocks, they at best can update only about 100 fish stock assessments each year. NOAA Fisheries is now preparing a system that they believe will enhance the transparency and standardization that each science center and fishery management council can prioritize fish stock assessments. NOAA said the public is invited to comment.

 

NOAA AGREES TO PAY FOR OBSERVERS

Also NOAA Fisheries announced that the agency will pay the observer and at-sea monitoring costs for groundfish sectors in 2014. Previously fishermen complained that observers were costing them more than what they could make. The government said the observers were needed for all groundfish sectors to count the discards as well as the catch.

 

RIGHT WHALE DISENTANGLED OFF GEORGIA

Wildlife experts cut away more than 280 feet of commercial fishing line being dragged by an endangered right whale off the coast of Georgia. However, not all of the heavy rope was removed. Some of the rope was left tangled in the whale’s mouth, but officials believe they cut enough of it that it will eventually fall off. This was the first time since 2011 that a right whale had been spotted entangled offshore in the Southeast.

 

TWO SECURITY GUARDS DIE ABOARD MAERSK ALABAMA

Once again the Maersk Alabama is in the news. This time two American security workers have been found dead on the Maersk Alabama. Their bodies were found in a cabin. News services have reported that drugs played a role in the men’s deaths. Previously, the Maersk Alabama made national headlines after it was hijacked by Somalian pirates. The Hollywood movie “Captain Phillips” was made about that incident.

 

CONTAINERS FALL OFF MAERSK SHIP

And here is another story involving a Maersk ship. Very rough weather caused the container ship Svendborg Maersk to lose a significant number of containers into the Bay of Biscay while en route to Colombo, Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is located off the southeast lower tip of India. The ship also suffered some minor damage, but none of its crew was hurt. The captain said the wind was blowing 60 knots with 30 foot waves. When they reached port to restack the remaining containers, it was determined that more than 500 containers had fallen overboard, but many of them were empty and none carried any kind of hazardous or dangerous goods.

 

ORIGIN OF FACE BEGAN WITH FISH

And last on today’s nautical news, ever wonder why we have a face? Scientists say that the first creatures with a backbone from hundreds of millions of years ago had no face. But then a small, primitive armored fish known as Romundina, that swam the seas 415 million years ago, developed a jaw and with the evolution of the jaw came the face. After the jaw developed, an upper lip was formed. After the upper lip came the nose and then the eyes. The study and theory is published in the journal Nature.

 

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