Nautical News: For the week of November 18, 2018



A Rhode Island company has successfully demonstrated a new diving technology using an “underwater tent” that allows its occupants to essentially camp out underwater. Divers using traditional scuba gear dive into a tent that is relatively dry and protected. The divers then can safely remove their equipment and experience the underwater world while eating, drinking, and even sleeping overnight. The only thing they can’t do is smoke.




There could be serious implications for fishermen and the seafood industry now that the Democrats have control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Industry leaders do not expect the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to be acted on until next year when the new Congress convenes in January. That means the reauthorization of the Magnuson Act which was sponsored by Alaskan Republican Don Young probably will probably be rewritten by Californian Democrat Representative Jared Huffman who serves as the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans and in position to chair the subcommittee that handles fisheries management issues. Previously, the Modern Fish Act, which benefited recreational fishermen, was a part of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Democrats said the Modern Fish Act gave recreational fishing interests too much control over the red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico. Other threats to fishermen will come from Democrats who favor more aquaculture and fish farms in the ocean.




This past week, the largest homeland security training exercise ever was conducted in Massachusetts. State Police, Coast Guard, the National Guard, local police, fire departments, harbormasters, and private sector partners such as Gillette Stadium and Boston Harbor Cruises all were a part of the exercise. To keep the integrity of the scenarios for those involved, the type of disaster or threat was not disclosed to the public, but one can assume it involved an active shooter or bomber. The scenarios were designed to see how the first responders acted under distress.



Scientists say New England has seen an unusually early start to the sea turtle stranding season this year, with more than 40 turtles washing up on Massachusetts beaches. NOAA workers claim Massachusetts averages about 600 cold-stunned endangered sea turtles a year, but the season doesn’t typically start until the middle of November. This year already 42 live Kemp’s ridley sea turtles and one dead Kemp’s ridley turtle have washed up on beaches. The rescued turtles are first brought to the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary and then taken to the New England Aquarium Animal Care Center in the former Quincy shipyard where they are treated for hypothermia. Then as a final step, some of the rescued turtles are put in a plane and flown south to warmer water. To report a cold-stunned sea turtle in Massachusetts, south of Boston, call Massachusetts Audubon at Wellfleet Bay.




The Coast Guard and the Barnstable Harbormaster are searching for a fishing boat named Michelle Marie after receiving calls from someone claiming the boat was taking on water with 4 people aboard. The caller did not respond after the initial call to any further calls made by authorities. Coast Guard boats, helicopters, and a cutter searched 335 square nautical miles over 14 hours. After not finding any signs of pollution or a boat in distress, and because there was no report of any overdue boaters or missing persons, the search was suspended pending the development of new information. Anyone with information about the Michelle Marie is asked to contact the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard defines a hoax as a case where information is conveyed with the intent to deceive. They remind the public that false maydays not only waste time, money and resources, but also can be extremely dangerous for the first responders and possibly to another boat or person in a real emergency. Hoax callers face up to 10 years in prison, $250,000 in fines, plus the cost of the search.




North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper is asking the federal government for additional money to help mitigate the damages caused to the state’s fisheries by Hurricane Florence. Governor Cooper wants to declare a federal fishery resources disaster for North Carolina stating such a declaration would provide long-term relief to families relying on North Carolina’s recreational and commercial fisheries. In a letter to the Secretary of U.S. Commerce, Governor Cooper wrote, “This was the storm of a lifetime for many North Carolina coastal communities. The damaging economic impact to the state’s fisheries was, and continues to be, significant.”




If you own a kayak, canoe, or paddle-board, the Coast Guard wants you remove it from the water and store it far from the beach in a safe location. High winds and flooding can cause improperly stored paddle-craft to drift out to sea prompting unnecessary searches. Also the Massachusetts Environmental Police remind all canoeists and kayakers that they are required to wear life jackets between September 15th and May 15th.




Researchers at the Center for Coastal Studies claim the population of North Atlantic right whales has dropped and is now estimated to be in the low 400s as of a year ago. Experts claim that at least 40 North Atlantic right whales died last year either from strandings, ship strikes, entanglement, or disease. Seventeen of those deaths were documented with twelve of the 17 happening in Canada in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Scientists are particularly concerned about the lack of known calves born last year. Researchers are hoping for a resurgence in births the next couple of months as some of the estimated 100 remaining females give birth off the coasts of Georgia and Florida. Scientists admit that there are thousands of right whales in the Southern Atlantic, but do not understand why the southern and northern right whales do not mix.

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