Nautical News: For the week of September 30, 2018


The owner of a Maine lobster restaurant claimed he is putting pot into the lobsters before putting them into the pot. The owner said right now it is in the testing stage and the lobsters are not being sold to the public. He said he hired a state licensed medical marijuana caregiver to get the lobsters high by placing the lobsters in a covered box with two inches of water at the bottom and then blowing smoke filled with THC into the box. He said that after the lobsters breathe in the smoke, they are calmer and do not even need a rubber band around their claws. How much marijuana actually gets into the meat of the lobster is unknown, but the restaurateur claimed he is not selling an edible. Anyway, health inspectors in Maine got whiff of what was going on and are now investigating. Health inspectors said they were not sure if the state’s medical marijuana law even applied to animals, but they want to know what’s going on in the restaurant’s kitchen.



The Coast Guard and Massachusetts State Police searched for a 26 year old man who disappeared while swimming off the coast of Truro Saturday afternoon. First responders rushed to Ballston Beach after receiving a report about a swimmer in distress. Authorities said the victim was swimming with his mother at the time. Officials suspended the search for the night and said when they return, their mission will become a search and recovery mission rather than a search and rescue one. Numerous great white sharks have been sited this summer off Ballston Beach, and Truro police announced all ocean side beaches were closed until further notice.

Man’s body was found when search resumed.



In a related story, about 300 Cape Cod residents filled a Wellfleet elementary school’s auditorium to address what could be done to protect its residents and tourists from future shark attacks. Local officials, researchers, and shark experts were all present. One person said everyone in the room was to blame for the recent shark attack because nothing was going to get done until someone was killed by a great white. Suggestions included using drones to watch for sharks, culling the seals, catching the sharks, more lifeguards, and even an underwater cable system to detect the sharks. One woman stood up and said, “the sharks were eating our fish and now they’re eating our children. No shark or seal is worth a young man’s life.”



A German cruise ship and the Coast Guard came to the aid of a scallop boat captain after he made a mayday call claiming one of his crew mates went crazy, hitting three other fishermen on the boat on the head with a hammer and also had a knife in his hand. The incident happened 55 miles east of Nantucket. There were seven fishermen on board the 82 foot scallop boat named the Captain Billy Haver out of Virginia. The crew member that the captain said he couldn’t wake up was in fact pronounced dead aboard a German cruise ship. The attacker was identified as a 27 year old Mexican national who was in the United States illegally. He will be charged with murder and attempted murder and will either face a life prison sentence or deported. He is expected to appear in federal court in Boston. Defense attorneys will argue that he was mentally insane and under the influence of drugs. According to court documents, this wasn’t the first time that he had been arrested in the United States.



This summer has seen several dead whales, hundreds of dead seals, and thousands of dead fish wash up on local beaches. Now Massachusetts environmental officials are investigating what killed hundreds of thousands large surf clams that have washed up on Revere Beach. The state’s Division of Marine Fisheries is now analyzing the clams in an attempt to determine the cause of the mass shellfish kill.



This past week the New England Fisheries Management Council voted to make two changes to the management of the herring fishery that, if implemented, would cause large changes to it and other fisheries. Lobstermen and blue fin tuna fishermen depend upon herring for bait. The change, known as Amendment 8, creates a long-term biological catch control rule for the Atlantic herring fishery that will drop this year’s total allowable catch of herring from 49,900 tons to 21,266 tons in 2019. The second action taken by the council established a 12-nautical-mile buffer zone, starting at Montauk Lighthouse in New York and running to the eastern border of Maine that would prohibit all mid-water trawling for herring. For those in the midwater trawl industry, those fishermen claim they will not survive and will be out of business. Environmental groups like the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Conservation Law Foundation said these new regulations do not go far enough. The decisions by the council aren’t final until approved by the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office.



Earlier this month, NOAA called for the revocation of 17 operator permits held by Carlos “the codfather” Rafael’s captains. NOAA also increased the civil penalties associated with the case from just under a million dollars to more than 3 million dollars. Leaders in the New Bedford seafood industry think John Bullard, the former New Bedford Mayor and the former northeast Atlantic regional administrator for NOAA has something to do with these recent actions since Bullard was involved in the Rafael case in its early days when Rafael was first indicted. Bullard responded saying people who make such statements offend all those involved in New Bedford’s fisheries enforcement community. Bullard believes that the captains were complicit with Rafael. However, current New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell doesn’t believe that justice is being served with NOAA’s increased punishment to Rafael’s captains. Without the captains there is no one to run the boats which will hurt the New Bedford economy.



A ruling by a federal judge earlier this week could have major implications for how the United States regulates aquaculture in federal waters. The judge ruled that NOAA Fisheries does not have the authority to regulate aquaculture through the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The judge said the Magnuson-Stevens Act deals with only the traditional fishing of wild fish and that the agency’s interpretation of the word harvesting in the law was done on purely a semantic level and did not apply to farm raised fish.

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