Nautical News: For the week of March 9, 2014

MARSHFIELD HARBORMASTER PRACTICES ICE RESCUES

Marshfield Harbormaster Mike DiMeo put on a yellow ice rescue suit and went into an icy pond behind the Marshfield Rod and Gun Club to teach a group of about 20 law enforcement officials the techniques of ice rescues. Officials from the New Bedford, Quincy and Boston Police Departments attended as did four members of the Marshfield Harbormaster’s Department two members of the Marshfield Fire Department, the Braintree harbormaster, and an assistant harbormaster from Scituate. The event was organized by the new Commonwealth of Massachusetts Harbormasters and Maritime Professionals Association, Inc, in which DiMeo is the president. DeMeo wasn’t the only one to go into the freezing water. By the end of the day, all participants were in the water performing simulated rescues. DeMeo told a reporter that despite the winters around here, ice rescues don’t happen very often in the region, but if it does happen you hope for a good outcome with the safety of the rescuers in mind too.

 

QUINCY ALLOWS BOSTON TO REPAIR LONG ISLAND BRIDGE

The longstanding battle between the cities of Quincy and Boston over the repairs needed for the Long Island Bridge appears to be over. The 63-year-old bridge is 3,500-feet long and is made of steel and concrete. It is owned by the city of Boston, but the city of Quincy provides the only land access to the bridge. Last week Quincy’s conservation commission finally approved the city of Boston’s plan to make $15 million in repairs to the Long Island Bridge provided that Boston pays $27,500 for the city of Quincy’s engineering consultant who will monitor the bridge repairs, making sure the work does not impact the surrounding environment, including Quincy’s beaches and maritime uses. Many officials in Quincy felt the bridge was beyond repair and should have been torn down. The bridge leads to Long Island, which is a part of the Boston Harbor Islands Park, but it is not open to the public. On the island is a homeless shelter, a sobriety and substance-abuse facility, a summer camp for city kids, and a historic lighthouse and fort. The $15 million project is scheduled to start this summer and last between two and three years. The repair work will not impede boat traffic passing under the bridge.

 

ATTENDANCE UP AT NEW ENGLAND BOAT SHOW

Officials from the New England Boat Show report that there was an 8.5 percent increase in attendance this year compared to last year. 47,115 people attended this year’s show. Many exhibitors reported their best show sales in years. One dealer boasted his sales team sold 23 boats at the show making it the best show since 2006. Other dealers also reported a larger volume of sales this year including the dealers of the larger and more expensive boats.

 

VALUE OF MAINE’S LOBSTERS UP AS ARE EXPENSES

According to statistics released this week by the Maine Department of Marine Resources, Maine’s 6000 licensed lobstermen trapped fewer lobsters in 2013 than they did in 2012, but the overall value was up. Maine’s lobster landings in 2013 were worth $364.5 million, nearly $23 million more than what was hauled in during 2012. However, prices of less than $3 a pound were still far below what they were in the mid-2000s, when fishermen averaged about 30% more. Also, the prices that fishermen paid for bait and diesel fuel were significantly higher than previous years.

 

GOVERNMENT OKs SEISMIC SURVEYS IN ATLANTIC

The U.S. Interior Department is recommending that undersea seismic surveys to proceed so that oil and gas drilling can begin off the Atlantic coast between Delaware and Florida. That area has been closed to petroleum exploration since the early 1980s. Environmentalists object to the recommendation saying the noise will be ruinous for the climate and a death sentence to the whales and dolphins in the Atlantic, but many marine scientists say the estimates of death and injury are seriously inflated. The American Petroleum Institute called the recommendation a critical step toward bolstering the nation’s energy security, predicting that oil and gas production in the region could create 280,000 new jobs and generate $195 billion in private investment.

 

RUSSIAN MILITARY SHIP DOCKS IN CUBA

While Washington watches the Russians take over the Ukraine and test fire rockets in Europe, a 309 foot long Russian Navy spy ship slipped into Havana Bay Cuba. The Viktor Leonov, part of the Vishnya class of intelligence ships, quietly entered Cuban waters and docked at a cruise ship terminal. The Russian Navy intelligence vessel in Havana is outfitted with electronic surveillance equipment that can easily monitor what is said in Washington and it has missile defense systems aboard. The last time missiles in Cuba were pointed at the U.S. was during the Kennedy presidency.

 

WHALE AND DOLPHIN CONSERVATION RECEIVES HONOR

The group known as the Whale and Dolphin Conservation was named one of the 10 Amazing Organizations Bravely Fighting for Marine Conservation in the world by One Green Planet. The Whale and Dolphin Conservation is an international organization with a North American office located in Plymouth, MA. Their mission focuses on reducing threats to whales and dolphins from whaling, vessel strikes, entanglement, and captivity. Last year, Whale and Dolphin Conservation’s work helped persuade a Japanese company to stop selling dog treats made from whale meat. Visit www.whales.org to learn more about how you can help as a volunteer, advocate, or donor.

 

SKIN DISEASE TRACED TO HANDLING RAW FISH

Health officials say they have traced a rare skin disease called Mycobacterium marinum to raw seafood. The Health Department said there were 30 reported cases of the disease in New York’s Chinatown. All the victims said they had handled live fish or raw seafood. Symptoms include red, tender lumps and swelling under the skin of their hands or arms. Sometimes people also develop swelling or pain in their hands and have difficulty moving their fingers. The Health Department is urging people to wear waterproof gloves when handling raw fish. Ironically, there is no risk associated with eating the fish.

 

BIRD HITS FISH AND ABORTS TAKE OFF

And last on today’s nautical news, we all have heard about planes hitting a bird while taking off, but have you ever heard of a plane hitting a fish while taking off. Well that is exactly what happened to a jet taking off at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. The pilot, Lt. Cmdr. Nick Toth of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, aborted the takeoff and brought the plane back to a hangar so it could get checked out. The crew ne the plane had seen an osprey fly in front of the plane moments before and figured that they had hit the bird, but nobody could find any remains of the bird on the runway. When they were told they hit a sheephead fish, the pilot couldn’t believe it, but the evidence didn’t lie. Technicians at a Smithsonian lab in Washington D.C. confirmed that the jet hit the fish while taking off. So how does something like that happen? Officials believe the bird that was seen by the crew on the plane had the fish in its mouth, and when it flew out of the way of the plane, it dropped the fish. For the record, last year, the FAA reports there were 11,000 animal strikes at 650 different airports. Most of the animals hit by planes were birds, but planes also hit deer, coyotes, turtles, skunks, bats and alligators. Now fish can be added to that list.

 

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