Nautical News: For the week of September 24, 2017



The body of a 72 year old kayaker who went missing on Tuesday was found a day later. The seventy-two-year-old man who lived in Saugus, launched his kayak at the Fox Hill Yacht Club on the Saugus River this past Tuesday. When he failed to return after a few hours, his son went looking for him and found his father’s vehicle where he had parked it. Authorities were notified and State Police said the man’s red and yellow kayak was found unoccupied on a beach at the Revere-Winthrop line. The next day, the man’s body and life jacket were found near where the kayak washed up ashore. Tropical storm Jose made it very difficult for first responders and prevented a search helicopter from flying.




Carlos Rafael, New Bedford’s “codfather,” is scheduled for sentencing tomorrow in Boston’s federal court for his lying, cheating, and fraudulent ways in the fishing business. The government has threatened to seize his vessels, permits, and wharehouse business, but his legal team claims that the severity of the punishment is unconstitutional. They claim for Rafael to lose assets worth an estimated 30 – 40 million dollars is a violation of the excessive fines clause of the Eighth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution. U.S. sentencing guidelines place the legal maximum fine at no more than $250,000. Furthermore, Rafael’s wife claims she owns half of the assets the government is trying to seize and that she had no knowledge of her husband’s criminal activities. And in a new twist, Rafael will tell the court that he has a buyer with a spotless record for the 13 groundfish vessels up for forfeiture, who will keep the boats and permits in New Bedford. Arguing against Rafael’s deal are fishermen who want to see all permits forfeited to NOAA and redistributed to fishermen across New England. Rafael’s sentencing guidelines originally had him facing between 63 and 78 months in prison, but since he plead guilty to his crimes, the possibility of a lighter sentence or no imprisonment exists.




Since the NOAA research vessel Bigelow is out of service because its engines died, the annual New England Fisheries Science Center’s Fall Bottom Trawl Survey will be conducted on the NOAA Ship Pisces. However, only Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine will be surveyed. The Mid-Atlantic and Southern New England waters have been dropped. If all goes smoothly in preparing the Pisces to support the survey, October 16th is the target start date, but NOAA acknowledges that the Pisces has less fish handling capacity than the Bigelow which will mean less data will be collected. Two other surveys planned this fall for other species were also delayed or cancelled because of the Bigelow repair. The Bigelow is not expected back in service until early November.




According to a leaked copy to the Associated Press, Nautical Talk Radio has learned that the Trump administration is now considering Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke’s recommendation to open the national underwater monuments and seamount areas off Cape Cod to commercial fishing. The recommendation comes just days after the one year anniversary of President Obama’s order that created the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument and banned commercial fishing there. The monument area is more than 4,900 square miles in size and is located about 100 miles southeast of Cape Cod. According to the Associated Press’s report, Zinke recommends keeping the monument at its current size, but rescinds the ban on commercial fishing within it. In addition to the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, Zinke recommended reducing the size the Pacific Remote Islands and Rose Atoll monument areas and also allowing commercial fishing to resume there. However, a lawsuit has already been filed by environmentalists to keep the commercial fishing ban in place in all of these areas. The lawsuit claims that only Congress can change a national monument designation and not a President. Their claim sort of flies in the face of the law because it was a President and not Congress who created it.




The insurance company that denied the claim for Nathan Carman’s boat that sank on a fishing trip, killing his mother, is now in court asking the judge to relieve it of its liability. The National Liability and Fire Insurance Co., which issued the policy on Carman’s 31 foot boat, the Chicken Pox, said in a Rhode Island federal court that Carman refused to answer questions germane to the sinking, and therefore, they want Carman’s insurance claim on the loss of his boat declared invalid. Among the questions Carman refuses to answer is an inquiry about the guns he owns or possessed, the electronics on the boat when it sank, the work he did on the boat prior to leaving on the fishing trip, and the GPS that went missing out of Nathan Carman’s car. Prior to his mother’s death, Nathan’s grandfather was shot and killed. That murder was never solved and Nathan’s guns disappeared after that murder. The insurance company believes there might be a connection between Nathan’s mother’s death and his grandfather’s death. The grandfather had an estate with an estimated value of 44 million dollars. Nathan did admit that he was approximately 100 miles offshore when something caused his boat to sink. While he went below to investigate the water coming into the boat, his mother went missing. He then abandoned ship and got into a life raft. He was rescued 115 miles off Martha’s Vineyard by a passing freighter a week later.




Miles off the coast of California, an aircraft armed with high-powered surveillance cameras locked in on a tiny object glimmering on the horizon. Authorities zoomed in closer and observed a triangular submarine-like vessel operating almost completely underwater to avoid observation and radar. For the second year in a row, the Coast Guard set a record for cocaine seizures at sea. So far The Coast Guard has seized more than 455,000 pounds of cocaine worth an estimated $6 billion dollars, and there is still a week remaining in the Coast Guard’s fiscal year. About 85 percent of the cocaine came from boats trying to enter the U.S from Columbia. The Coast Guard said at least 681 smugglers were arrested, up from 585 last year.




The recent hurricanes have the Coast Guard rethinking social media’s role in search and rescue. When 911 call centers quickly overloaded in Houston and Florida, people started posting on Facebook and Twitter to ask for help. The Coast Guard quickly learned that it needed to adapt. The Coast Guard’s command center in Washington started answering those calls for help on social media. Then, the agency quickly trained its people to use a geo-spatial application that sent direct search and rescue locations to the local first responders. Admiral Zukunft said that was how they rescued 11,000 people who used social media because they couldn’t get through on 911 calls. Now the Coast Guard wants to develop a national protocol for people to use social media with geo-tracking and location capability.




New studies have shown that tiny particles of plastic have been found in sea salt around the world finding their way into our food chain via the salt we spread on our food. Researchers believe the majority of plastic contamination is coming from plastic water and soda bottles. It can also be found in the fish we eat and the beer we drink. Unfortunately plastic pollution is everywhere. Believe it or not, there is no clear effect on human health because there are no studies on that subject.




Aquaculture leaders in the United States and Canada worry that the recent farmed salmon escape in Washington state could lead to additional regulations. West Coast and Canadian officials estimate that more than 100,000 farmed salmon still remain in their local waters. Now native Americans have joined the battle to fish farms in the Pacific. Lawmakers want NOAA, Fish and Wildlife, and the Army Corps of Engineers to immediately stop issuing any new fish farm permits in the ocean. They believe that farmed fish raised in pens in the ocean is dangerous to the environment and to the natural, wild fish.




And last on today’s nautical news, an intact German World War I submarine containing the bodies of 23 men was found by researchers on the bottom of the North Sea off the coast of Belgium. It is lying in about 90 feet of water. The bow of the sub was damaged, possibly by an underwater mine, but no water leaked into the sub. Its two torpedo tubes were destroyed. Video images showed the sub encrusted with barnacles, seaweed, and fishing nets. It’s the 11th big black German submarine found in Belgian waters.

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