Crew of Alaska Juris abandoned their sinking ship on a mild summer day: Coast Guard hearings begin

When Jonathan Jensen boarded the Alaska Juris last summer for his first stint at sea as a fishery observer, he learned early on that an alarm was supposed to sound should the crew ever need to evacuate. But on July 26, off Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, there was no such emergency signal — indeed, no electricity — as engine-room flooding cut the power and forced the crew to abandon the Washington-based factory trawler. Instead, he says the 46 crew members were forced to rely on word-of-mouth that they all were to assemble on deck, don survival suits and climb into life rafts. “The captain was doing his best to keep it lighthearted and us calm,” Jensen recalls. “He said, ‘When we get back on land, the first round is on me.’ ” Just what caused the flooding — and sinking — of the 229-foot Alaska Juris on a relatively calm summer day in the Bering Sea has not been determined, and will be investigated during two weeks of Coast Guard hearings that begin Monday in Seattle. Read the rest here 21:26

Fish Are Fueling a Battle to Preserve Offshore Rigs as Artificial Reefs along the California Coast

reefSprawled on the bottom level of a massive oil rig more than 11 miles from the shores of Long Beach, the half-dozen sea lions grow louder as our boat glides closer. One chews on a fish, holding it with long flippers, while nearly 300 feet above it rises the Ellen, a Mad Max-worthy assemblage of metal tubing and cables that pumps about 2,600 barrels of crude every day. A short distance away, attached by a latticework bridge, is its little sister, the Elly. If it’s strange to see wildlife on such a foreboding structure as it whirs and grinds, it’s stranger to think of all the sea life among the oil platform’s mooring lines and steel legs as
they extend about 260 feet to the ocean floor. “The deeper you go, the more marine life there is,” says Cal State Long Beach marine biologist Chris Lowe. In 2010, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB2503, otherwise known as the Rigs-to-Reefs Law, which permits certain oil and gas platforms to be left in place rather than completely removed once their drilling days are done. It was a third attempt to pass such a law. Read the story here 17:00

South Atlantic Fishery Management Council meeting in Atlantic Beach NC December 5 – 9, 2016

south-atlantic-fishery-management-council-logoThe public is invited to attend the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council to be held in Atlantic Beach NC at the DoubleTree by Hilton Atlantic Beach Oceanfront. Read the Meeting Agenda Click here, Briefing Book – June 2016 Council Meeting Click here Webinar Registration: Listen Live, Click here  15:10

Lessons from accidental oyster sanctuaries

oystersThe oysters came up in the dredge like I hadn’t seen them in 50 years (and rarely even back then): huge and clumped together and bedecked with sponges and all manner of marine organisms, including younger oysters, thriving in the niches of the natural reef we’d just busted into. It was last winter, and we’d been dragging the bottom of Virginia’s lower York River for a state crab survey. By chance we’d nicked into an oyster sanctuary, undisturbed for decades. It wasn’t the kind of official sanctuary over which Maryland’s oystermen are wrangling with scientists and environmentalists — the watermen wanting more harvest, others wanting the benefits to the Chesapeake Bay’s water quality and the habitat of an undisturbed oyster reef. The little reef we struck in Virginia, not even designated on charts or given special status in law, is nonetheless well protected. Its enduring and pristine status comes from one of the world’s largest military-industrial complexes, concentrated here in the lower Chesapeake. Read the story here 14:16

Big changes in the air over little menhaden? – Hearings examine ecological value, catch allocation of forage fish species

menhadenThe Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which regulates near-shore fishing from Maine to Florida — including the Chesapeake Bay — has invited public comment on several questions about future management of the menhaden fishery at hearings all along the coast. Sessions in the Bay watershed begin Monday, Dec. 5. The most important issue under consideration involves setting new “reference points” regulating the catch of menhaden that would account for their value to other fish and predators — not just their commercial importance. But the commission also is weighing whether to shake up how the total catch is distributed along the coast. Read the slanted story here Review Public information document for Amendment 3 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan For Atlantic Menhaden here  12:11