Nautical News: For the week of August 6, 2017

SECRETARY of HOUSING and ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TALKS DREDGING

 

The Massachusetts Secretary of Housing and Economic Development and representatives from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs conducted two listening sessions in Plymouth and Beverly for legislators, harbormasters, municipal officials, stakeholders and local officials to share ideas and identify needs for dredging in our coastal communities. I attended the meeting in a packed room in Plymouth and spoke out against the officials who wanted a tax or fee increase on boaters to pay for dredging. I also pointed out that the state is already having troubles dredging the properties they own.

 

NOAA FISHERY AGENTS PRESSURE WITNESSES AND LOSE CASE

 

It took a federal jury in Boston less than an hour to find a federally permitted Bluefin tuna dealer not guilty on all five counts that included smuggling, falsifying records, and conspiracy. The charges were filed by NOAA agents and the Department of Justice after a four-and-a-half year investigation. The case involved the landing of Bluefin tuna that had allegedly been caught by the fishing vessel Hannah Boden, which was previously featured in the book and movie The Perfect Storm. NOAA based its case after enrolling two witnesses in a Confidential Informant program, promising them deals. At the trial, witnesses acknowledged being pressured by NOAA agents and attorneys to implicate the Massachusetts tuna dealer. One of the federal agents actually admitted that he and the government’s prosecutors did not realized the fisherman was 2600 miles away in British Columbia on the day they accused him of falsifying records. Furthermore, character witnesses supported the man’s longstanding compliance efforts and his support for sustainable fishing. The fisherman’s attorney stated, “the jury could see how federal agents pressured witnesses to make exaggerated statements and engaged in misconduct. Based on the way the government handled this case, if the jury had the opportunity, it would have found the government guilty of serious misconduct for bringing such frivolous charges.

 

SENTENCING OF “CODFATHER” DELAYED AGAIN

 

It appears that Carlos “Codfather” Rafael’s sentencing may not take place until late September as his attorneys are trying to work out a plea deal that bans Rafael from fishing forever. Rafael has already agreed to forfeit 13 fishing boats along with their permits, and pay $108,829 in taxes he evaded and owed the IRS. Rafael pleaded guilty to falsifying fish quotas, false species labeling, conspiracy, and tax evasion last March. However, New England fishermen want the courts and NOAA to make an example of him by giving him the maximum jail sentence and assessing him huge fines that wipe him out financially. The fines should then be used to compensate fishermen from Maine to New York.

 

HUMAN REMAINS FOUND INSIDE STATION CHATHAM COAST GUARD BOAT

 

The medical examiner’s office has positively identified the human remains found on a 44-foot Coast Guard rescue boat on display on land at Coast Guard Station Chatham, as that of a missing 24 year old man of South Chatham. The decomposed body was discovered in an airtight, watertight compartment on the boat that was designed to roll over and self right itself. A Coast Guard law enforcement team conducting a drill opened the small hatch in the stern of the boat and found the body. The compartment was not designed for humans to occupy and has a posted warning sign not to enter. It was designed for storage and to serve as an emergency access point to make steering repairs. It was reported that the victim had mental health issues and a history of disappearing for days at a time. He had been reported missing by family members on October 27, 2016. The district attorney’s office said that a preliminary investigation indicated no foul play was involved in the young man’s death.

 

PREHISTORIC FISH CAUGHT IN TAUNTON RIVER

 

A 16 year old Taunton girl set a state record with her catch of a nearly 8 pound prehistoric fish known as a bowfin. Tauri Adamczyk was fishing with her father on the Taunton River when she caught the fish that was 26 inches long. Tauri is no stranger to fishing. She was previously named the Massachusetts’ youth angler of the year in 2015. Marine biologists said the bowfin is only found the watersheds of the Taunton and Connecticut rivers. It is prized for its size, fighting qualities, and exotic appearance, but it doesn’t make a good meal. As it turned out, the fish became the very first bowfin officially certified by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife in the state’s ongoing fishing tournament.

 

NORTH SOUTH RIVER WATERSHED ASSOCIATION COUNTS HERRING

 

The North South River Watershed Association trained 87 citizen scientist volunteers this year to count the river herring migrating into First Herring Brook in Scituate, Third Herring Brook in Norwell and Hanover, Herring Brook in Pembroke, and the South River in Marshfield. The group counted more than 11,350 fish, and in some cases, like at the River/Broadway run, observers counted the most fish ever seen. Officials also reported this was the second highest year for Herring Brook in Pembroke. However, even with dam removal projects in the works, the numbers were not as good in Scituate and Marshfield’s South River.

 

ATLANTIC MENHADEN STOCK IN GOOD SHAPE

 

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission claims that the Atlantic menhaden population is plentiful and in good shape. The commission said the fish are not experiencing overfishing. Menhaden, also known as pogies or bunker, are an important forage fish that other species depend upon for food. It is often used by fishermen for bait and it is estimated more than a billion pounds of menhaden are caught every year. However, most of that catch is caught by factory ships working at the mouth of the Chesapeake, but instead of using the fish for bait, it is often processed into fish oil, sometimes for industrial use and sometimes for human consumption.

 

COAST GUARD COMMANDANT PRAISES TRANSGENDERS

 

The commandant of the Coast Guard said that he would continue to support transgender personnel under his command, despite President Trump’s three tweets saying the government would not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the Department of Defense. The commandant, Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, said his office had reached out to the 13 Coast Guard members who self-identify as transgender after seeing the president’s tweets. Admiral Zukunft said all of them are doing meaningful Coast Guard work today. Although it is a military service, the Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security, rather than the Defense Department. Since President Trump’s tweets specifically mentioned the Defense Department, it is unclear how a potential ban would affect the Coast Guard.

 

LOBSTERMEN RESCUE BALD EAGLE

 

And last on today’s nautical news, some Maine lobstermen used some Yankee ingenuity to rescue a waterlogged eagle that it spotted struggling in the water a quarter of a mile offshore. The lobstermen said that the bird was in trouble and seemed relieved to see their boat approach. At one point, it tried to hop on board the boat to get out of the water, but couldn’t lift its legs or wings to do so. The lobstermen thought about it and tied a board to a life jacket. They floated the makeshift raft toward the bird. The eagle hopped on it and the men pulled the bird on the raft to the open ended stern of their boat. They brought the bird on the raft into the cockpit, and the eagle appeared happy to dry off. The plan was to bring the bird to a wildlife rehabilitation center, but as the boat got closer to shore, the eagle spread its wings and flew away.


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