Nautical News: For the week of May 7, 2017



Again, WATD’s news director Christine James made the following report: A dramatic water rescue happened Wednesday night by Marshfield Police. Police Chief Phil Tavares told WATD News that it all started with a cell phone call to police at about 6:30 p.m. reporting a boat that had launched out of Green Harbor, on its maiden voyage, was sinking and taking on water. Chief Tavares, Assistant Harbormaster Bob Coakley and Officer Steve Mulligan launched a rescue boat immediately to get to the four people in distress. Chief Tavares said the ocean was rough and the current so strong that the sinking boat had drifted into the entrance of Plymouth and Duxbury harbors. There were no other boats in the area. Tavares said they could see the boat was rapidly taking on water and literally went completely under the ocean just as they arrived on scene. They pulled two people into the boat who had already jumped into the cold ocean. Then, the rescuers were able to jump into the water, rip off the boat’s canvas top, pull an elderly man who was stuck in a chair, out of the sinking boat. Another man in the submerged 19-foot cuddy cabin, who was trying to free his elderly father, eventually came to the surface screaming, shirtless and with no life preserver. He was too was pulled into the boat. Help also arrived from the Plymouth and Duxbury Harbormasters. Fire dept. personnel were waiting for everyone on shore with blankets and medical assistance. All four people were taken to Beth Israel Deaconess in Plymouth and treated for mild hypothermia. In just a little whole we will hear Christine James speaking with Marshfield Police Chief Phil Tavares.




Lobstermen are busy loading their boats with traps and buoys and getting their gear back in the water after a three-month closure ended this week for most of the South Shore, but Marshfield lobsterman John Haviland said he is starting the season feeling more disenchanted than ever after federal regulators turned down a proposal to allow lobstermen to fish year-round with a new rope line designed to reduce whale entanglement. Haviland, the president of the South Shore Lobster Fishermen’s Association, said that he was disappointed after putting three years worth of research and meetings into trying to do the right thing, only to be turned down. Since 2015, federal regulations have banned the lobstermen from setting traps between February 1 and April 30th off the South Shore and Cape Cod Bay, shutting down the local industry for the winter to prevent whale entanglements. This year the closure was extended an additional week because so many whales were in the area. As the state announced the extended closure, Haviland went before the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team to present a new rope line that would break if a whale became entangled in it. The feds decided more testing was needed even though the science committee supported it.




In a related story, new restrictions on lobster fishing in waters south of the Cape Cod Canal are up for a vote this coming week. The commission has already held several public hearings on the proposal in March. Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vineyard Sounds have seen a decline in the lobster population going as far back as 20 years. Some blamed the decline on the airplanes spraying pesticide to kill the bugs. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is scheduled to vote on trap reductions, changes to the legal harvesting size of lobsters, and seasonal closures to try to preserve the lobster population. The few lobstermen remaining in Southern New England oppose the new measures, saying the new regulations would put them out of business. The lobster fishery in northern New England is a different story. New record breaking catches have been set several years in a row including a new record in 2016.




Tax assessors in Massachusetts are again proposing changes to the way boat excise taxes are collected. According to the Massachusetts Association of Assessing Officers, the current method for collecting boat excise taxes is “antiquated and labor intensive to implement.” The result is that many cities and towns do not even bother to issue boat excise tax bills, thus creating an unfair system in the state. The new proposal calls for the director of the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Environmental Law Enforcement to send the assessor in each city or town on October 1st a list of the vessels documented with the Coast Guard or registered in the state. The boat owner would have to prove the excise tax was paid before the documentation or registration was renewed. Another part of the bill makes commercial fishing boats no longer exempt from the excise tax. Opponents to the bill say it will discourage visiting boaters from staying the summer here, and have an economic impact on local boatyards, marinas, restaurants, and other shops as boaters bypass Massachusetts for neighboring states that have no excise tax and no sales tax.




A coalition of recreational boating and sportfishing advocates urged the Trump administration and Congress to amend the ethanol laws. The American Sportfishing Association, Boat/US, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the Marine Retailers Association, and the Recreational Fishing Alliance all expressed concern in a letter to President Trump and Congress about the Renewable Fuel Standard, the law that requires increasing amounts of ethanol to be blended into the nation’s fuel supply. When the law was written in 2005, it was assumed that U.S. gasoline use would continue to rise. However, consumption has dropped steadily since 2005, and the law now requires more corn based ethanol to added to a gallon of gas. The letter said the law will cause harm to marine engines as well as many small household gas powered products. Because of the danger that more ethanol will damage boat engines, federal law now prohibits the use of ethanol greater than E10 in recreational boats. However, as E15 and higher blends of ethanol are blended into the pumps at the gas stations, the chance of misfueling increases. A 2016 Harris Poll found that 64 percent of consumers were not sure about or did not pay attention to the type of gas they purchased.




The federal Environmental Protection Agency is finally updating information about climate change on its website. The EPA’s old climate change website, which has existed since 1997, now reflects EPA’s priorities under the leadership of President Trump. Some of the changes on the web site include new data that dispel theories about climate change being caused by the United States’ use of fossil fuels. The EPA said the changes will comply with legal guidance, including the use of proper archiving procedures for the old web site.




A sailboat named Fulfillment, owned by an 82 year old Florida resident, was found beached on Hatteras Island in North Carolina. According to a float plan, the sailor was on his way to Maine when something bad happened. The Coast Guard called off its search after covering around 2,700 square miles for nearly two days. A Coast Guard officer said making the choice to suspend a search is by no means a simple decision, and a decision the Coast Guard never takes lightly. We offer our sincere condolences to the man’s friends and family.




Scientists in the Arctic now predict that sea level rise is happening much faster than previously predicted. In some areas they say it is happening twice as fast thanks in part to the pace of ice loss of Arctic glaciers and the vast ice sheet of Greenland. Seas could be expected to rise “at least” 1.7 feet and possibly 2.4 feet by the year 2100. However, a recent report from NOAA suggested that, in an “extreme” case, seas could possibly rise by as much as 8 feet by 2100. Because of the difference between the worst case and more moderate sea level rise scenarios, the report concluded based on the Paris Climate Agreement that the global sea level could be substantially reduced. The Trump administration has been divided over whether to stick with the president’s campaign pledge and withdraw the United States from that agreement. It is unclear how the United States may react to the new Arctic report at the upcoming Arctic council meeting.




And last on today’s nautical news, an anchor from one of Christopher Columbus’ ships has believed to have been found in the Caribbean. It was located off the Turks and Caicos Islands. An analysis revealed the anchor dates back to the 1500’s. The discovery will be revealed in the third episode of the Discovery Channel documentaries Cooper’s Treasure. The anchor was found by using a map created

by Astronaut Gordon Cooper while he was in outer space. Cooper said he saw a series of anomalies beneath the surface of the Caribean Sea which he believed were shipwrecks. Divers used Astronaut Cooper’s map and a magnetometer to locate Columbus’ ship. Nobody is saying whether the anchor is off of the Santa Maria, the Nina or the Pinta.


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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, State House and town hall reporters, freelance reporters, special feature reporters and producers, and on air radio hosts and personnel.