National Fisherman

Boats & Gear 

Michael CrowleyThe Boats & Gear blog is overseen by our Boats & Gear editor, Michael Crowley. It explores new construction projects, electronics, gear and equipment for the commercial fishing industry.

Littering probably isn’t the problem it once was in this country. Many towns have recycling centers and there are fines for littering. In Massachusetts, if you toss your cigarette out the window on the Interstate it’s not just a slap on the wrist and a lecture on keeping the roads and neighborhoods clean, it’s a crime.

2014 925 Derelict blue crab trapA derelict blue crab trap found in Chesapeake Bay still contains crab. A recent NOAA study looks at the effect of derelict fishing gear upon targeted and non-targeted species in seven fisheries around the country. NOAA photoOnce you leave land and head out to sea there’s a different kind of littering: it’s not something you see but it has an impact. When fishermen — commercial or recreational — lose or discard traps or nets it becomes what’s called derelict fishing gear. And when that gear still catches fish it’s ghost fishing, affecting targeted and non-targeted species.

In Southeast Alaska it’s estimated there are 3,072 derelict traps holding 6,525 Dungeness crabs at any given time. Those figures are a part of a NOAA ghost fishing study entitled “Out of sight but not out of mind: Harmful effects of derelict traps in selected U.S. coastal waters,” that appeared in the September 2014 issue of Marine Pollution Bulletin

There have been regional studies to try and understand the degree of trap loss but there haven’t been any that look at ghost fishing as a national problem with species specific ecological and environmental impacts. 

NOAA is trying to do just that by, initially, bringing together data from seven fisheries — Dungeness crab in Alaska and Puget Sound, blue crab in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina, spiny lobster in Florida, and coral reef fish in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The NOAA study focuses on the number of derelict fishing traps in each fishery and their impact on fishermen, target and non-target species and the habitat.

Various methods were used to locate abandoned or lost fishing gear, including divers, side-scan sonar and cameras mounted on a towed sled, ROV or fixed arm from the boat.

The highest density of abandoned gear is in the Maryland portion of Chesapeake Bay with 28 to 75 derelict fish traps per square kilometer. Puget Sound had 44 per square kilometer, and 32 percent of those traps were ghost fishing, with 21 dead crabs and 49 live crabs taken from them.

The fishing grounds around St. John Island in the U.S. Virgin Islands had the lowest density of lost traps at 5 per square kilometer.

The estimated time traps ghost fish varies from 0.3 years in the Virgin Island to more than 6 years in Alaska. Though as the report notes, “some of the traps surveyed were still ghost fishing, which suggests that our estimates of ghost fishing time are conservative.”

The economic impact of ghost fishing can be considerable. The report’s authors estimate that in Puget Sound each year derelict fish traps kill 178,874 Dungeness crabs worth more than $744,000 or 4.5 percent of the annual average harvest. 

The report concludes with some suggestions for a derelict fishing trap management program. That includes educating fishing communities on the impact of derelict traps, removing derelict traps, low-cost disposal options and new trap designs. To read the Marine Pollution Bulletin article in full, click here.

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If your fishing boat is less than 79 feet then starting Dec. 19, it looks like you will have to start complying with the EPA’s Small Vessel General Permit for Discharges Incidental to the Normal Operation of Vessels Less than 79 Feet. That’s the whole title; the shortened version is sVGP. It’s designed to reduce incidental discharges for boats operating within three miles of the coastline and in the Great Lakes.

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If you started building a boat 50 feet or over after July 1, 2013, its design and construction has to be under the review and periodic monitoring of a classification society, such as American Bureau of Shipping or Det Norske Veritas

That's going to jack the price of the boat up at least $250,000. It's been assumed that one way to avoid the extra cost is to utilize a keel built before the July 1 deadline. Some boatbuilders constructed two or three keels with that in mind, earmarking some of the keels for a particular boat while the others would be sold at a later time.

The 2012 Coast Guard and Marine Transportation Act did say that building a keel prior to July 1, 2013, qualifies as having begun building a boat, thus avoiding the classification process and cost. But here's the rub: if the keel was built for your boat you are pretty much in the clear and can wait two, three maybe four years to build the rest of the boat.

But if you've gone into a boatyard after July 1 and bought a keel built before the deadline, thinking it will allow you to escape having to class the boat, you are probably wrong and will still need to have the boat classed. Basically you just bought a bunch of steel or fiberglass, but it's not a keel, at least from the Coast Guard's standpoint.

"When the keel is laid, the common sense interpretation would have to be that the keel is identified with a vessel," says Jack Kemerer, chief of the Fishing Vessel Safety Division in the Coast Guard's Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance

"Just saying we cut steel June 13, 2013, before the deadline, unless you can identify the keel with a particular vessel, it's probably not going to be accepted," Kemerer says. "It should be classed."

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"Go West, young man" was supposedly advice author Horace Greeley gave in the mid-1800s to young men burdened by a lack of opportunity among the cities and farms of the East Coast. These days that expression is being turned around as a few West Coast fishermen are looking to the East, primarily to Maine, when it's time to build a new boat.

20140904 boatbuilding NFoctThat's particularly true for boats in the 40-foot range. We look at one example of this trend in the boatbuilding story that begins on page 28 in the October issue.

When Jerry Brum a Dungeness crab fisherman out of San Mateo, Calif., was thinking about upgrading from his 32-footer, a friend suggested he take a look at a 45-footer owned by another Dungeness crab fisherman. That 45-footer, a fiberglass boat built in 2009 at H&H Marine in Steuben, Maine, got Brum's attention.

Brum liked the looks of the boat and signed up with H&H Marine to build him a slightly smaller version of the Osmond Beal design, at 40' x 14' 10". It's not easy working out the details of having your boat built when the boatyard is 3,000 miles — give or take — away. It takes trust on the part of the fisherman and the boatbuilder.

Brian Robbins, the article's author, leads the reader through the building of the Miss G, until Brum has a boat that offers plenty of working room and carrying capacity, yet enables him to work the Miss G by himself if need be.

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Ask most small-boat fishermen what they think of powering with electric motors instead of a diesel or gasoline engine and, if they are being generous, they will probably tell you, "It's a nice idea but not practical for a working boat."

But there are indications that attitude might be slowly changing. A good example of that changing attitude is the pair of EP-10000 electric motors from Elco Motor Yachts that has replaced a 175-hp Detroit Diesel 6-71 in an 86-year-old, 40-foot dredge tender on the New York canals.

2014 826A pair of Elco Motor Yachts EP-10000 electric motors power a 40-foot dredge tender on the New York canals. Elco Motor Yachts photoThe engines are mounted in tandem and take up less space and weigh less than the Detroit.

New York's Canal Corp. is comparing the performance and maintenance costs of the twin Elcos against the Detroit for maneuvering dredges and dredge barges on the canal.

So far the EP-10000 electric motors — equal to about 100 horsepower each — are delivering 15 percent more horsepower to the shaft than the Detroit and push the dredge tender to its maximum hull speed of about 8 knots.

It costs about $5 to $6 a day to recharge the dredge tender's 36 Absorbed Glass Mat batteries. Now compare that to filling up with diesel fuel after a day on the fishing grounds.

Besides the dredge tender, electric motors from Elco Motor Yachts currently power a 65-passenger water taxi in Florida and a 66-foot passenger-carrying boat that a Canadian museum operates. Elco is also talking with another Canadian outfit about powering a passenger-carrying 60-foot catamaran with an EP-10000 in each hull.

A Maine fisherman is on the list of potential customers interested in using electric motors, as is a logging company with several small tugs. The logging outfit is especially interested in the electric motors' "green" benefits, since the tugs operate in protected waters and will be penalized for any oil spills.

Comments from the dredge tender's crew indicate that there are significant onboard environmental benefits: There's no smoke with the electric motors, it's easy to have a conversation and there's no vibration.

The environmental benefits plus the cost of recharging batteries at the end of the day — versus paying for diesel fuel or gasoline — just might catch the attention of some commercial fishermen.

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The last race of the season on the Maine lobster boat racing circuit once again took place during Portland’s MS Harborfest, which raises money for the Greater New England chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

2014 0819Whistlin' Dixie leads Four Girls at the Portland races. Jon Johansen photoSixty-one boats showed up for the Aug. 18 races. Besides being an opportunity to contribute to the MS Society, take part in a race in front of a large crowd gathered along Portland’s Eastern Promenade, there was the opportunity for lobstermen to leave Portland with 100 gallons more diesel fuel in their tank.

Global Partners in South Portland donated 1,600 gallons of diesel to be divided among 16 races. At the end of the day, the festival’s organizers held a drawing among the participants in each race; you didn’t have to win a race to get the 100 gallons, you just had to compete.

Several of the faster boats — Foolish Pleasure; Wild, Wild West; and Uncle’s UFO — didn’t show. That left it up to Whistlin’ Dixie, a Holland 40 with a 1,000-hp Cat; Thunderbolt, a South Shore 30 with a 496 Chevy — horsepower unknown; and Mojo Inc., a Holland 32 with a 560-hp FPT diesel to provide most of the high-speed entertainment.

Unfortunately for Thunderbolt, she blew her transmission, so at the end of the day, Whistlin’ Dixie came out on top at about 45 mph with Mojo Inc. at number two.

The Black Diamond, a Holland 32 owned by Islesboro’s Randy Durkee had a unique distinction among the boats in Portland; Durkee’s Black Diamond was the only boat to show up at all nine of the lobster boat races, from Portland to Moosabec Reach.

The Black Diamond, with a 454 Chevy, usually wins her races in Class C (376 to 525 cubic inches, 24 feet and over) running in the low-30-mph range.

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OK, it’s time for Crowley’s first annual Accident and Mortality Award for the publication that best depicts — in narrative and graphic form — how you can injure yourself or worse out on the water.

2014 0812 MAIBThis year’s trophy goes to the Marine Accident and Investigation Branch’s 2013 report. The MAIB is a branch of the British civil service, and its report does not limit itself to one sector of the marine industry. If you screwed up while operating a boat — whether it was a recreational RIB, a commercial fishing boat or a containership — your mishap is likely to be in this 95-page report. It might appear in the form of an accident summary, a part of an artful graphic, or a color photo of your boat in fine condition and one showing it after the accident — if it’s still afloat — with a description of the safety issues you ignored and recommendations for improvement.

An example is the St Amant, a scallop dredger that lost a crewman overboard. That’s on page 19 and includes recommendations to the boat’s owner and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The owner was told that to improve onboard safety the crew should be equipped with PFDs and personal locator beacons, and “robust housekeeping procedures” are needed to “minimize the risk of trip hazards and clutter on deck.”

The failure of fishermen to wear PFDs is evidently as big a problem in the United Kingdom as it is in this country. One of the MAIB recommendations to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency called for legislation to make “compulsory the wearing of personal flotation devices on the working deck of fishing vessels if it becomes clear that current efforts to encourage fishermen to wear this equipment voluntarily are not successful.”

Some general statistics for United Kingdom fishing boats in 2013: 18 boats were lost compared to nine in 2012. The 10-year statistical average is 20. Fifteen of those were boats smaller than 50 feet. Four fishermen died, a historical low. There were nine cases of traumatic amputation out of a total of 33 fishermen injured.

Anyway, it’s all here. So take a look at and measure yourself against what is happening across the pond.

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On July 4th, Millennium Marine celebrated the grand opening of its boatshop in Eastport, Maine. After building boats for nearly 70 years in Escuminac, New Brunswick (first under the name Guimond Boats), the boatyard’s owner, Cory Guimond, shifted the company’s operations just over the border.

2014 0729 FireDuring the fire at Millennium Marine, the sprinkler system filled this boat with water, causing it to fall off its stands and onto its side.Fourteen people were on the payroll, and the owners anticipated they would employ 30 by the end of the year. The yard had two fiberglass 49-feet 11-inch boats under construction for West Coast fishermen.

Then Wednesday, July 23, at about 12:30 a.m., a fire started in the bow of one of the boats. The damage wasn’t discovered until 6:30. Fortunately, the building’s sprinkler system extinguished the fire, but not before one and possibly both boats were destroyed, and the shop suffered smoke and water damage.

The fire consumed the bow of one boat, and the sprinkler system filled up the second boat with water. The water’s weight caused the boat to fall over on its side. “The stands couldn’t hold it. The crash was so intense the building shook,” says the boatyard’s John Miller.

Though without the sprinkler system, “the whole building would have gone up,” adds Miller. The sprinkler system not only saved the building but the molds for building fiberglass hulls, as well.

“I would never ever dream of going back to a building without a sprinkling system,” Guimond says.

The fire started in a trash bucket in the bow of the boat that burned. The fire inspectors “deemed it to be caused by catalyst or chemicals that had a reaction and spontaneous combustion,” says Guimond. “The guys were doing a clean up and put materials and dust in a bucket, and that’s exactly where the fire started.”

Miller anticipates the insurance company will allow the two boats to be removed the last week in July and though the shop crew is currently doing some limited fiberglass work, the earliest Millennium Marine will be back to building boats will be the first week in August.

In the meantime, the yard’s crew has “been scrubbing every inch of the building, from top to bottom,” says Miller. On July 28, he said it was “pretty much back in order.”

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There are all kinds of reasons for buying a new diesel: air pollution requirements, better fuel consumption, weight savings (so you might go faster), a good maintenance record, or having the dealer and his mechanics near your dock when the engine needs servicing. But how about the engine’s ability to keep running after it has rolled 360 degrees?

2014 0724 rolloverAn MTU Series 2000 engine is rolled 360 degrees during testing.What happens when a boat capsizes is engine oil gets into the cylinders through the crankcase ventilation system. That destroys the engine as a result of uncontrolled combustion.

Obviously, this is an extreme rough-weather situation or one you might find yourself in if you were crossing a bar at the mouth of a river, but MTU has a solution for this potential problem and designed its 8V 2000 M84L to keep running after rotating 360 degrees on its own axis.

The secret is a valve in the crankcase ventilation that closes based on how far the boat is inclined and opens when the boat returns to an upright position — hopefully it does.

MTU tested the engine using a rollover stand that was “capable of realistically simulating a genuine lateral rollover.”

Truth be told, the Series 2000 engine with the rollover feature wasn’t designed with fishing boats in mind. Though there are some fishermen out there nutty enough to be curious about the notion of rolling over, recovering and continuing to steam along as if nothing had happened. If you know one, best not to ship with him.

The intended target of MTU rollover work is 31-knot, 65-foot lifeboats for the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institute. Those boats do now and then capsize and are designed to right themselves.

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Ask any lobsterman who enters Maine’s summer races which one he would most like to be at, and Stonington is probably at the top of the list. The race’s organizers always have good prizes. This year it was a Carolina Skiff with an engine, and then there’s the party the night before the Sunday race.

2014 BG LittleGirlLittle Girls leads the WTF, but the WTF won the Fastest Lobstah Boat Afloat at 47.4 mph. Jon Johansen photoThat the party’s reputation extends beyond the lobstering community explains the roadblocks this past Saturday evening and the presence of more than the usual number of Hancock County sheriffs.

But the next day there were no barriers on the water for the more than 100 boats that signed up to race.

Thirty-one events were scheduled for Sunday from a race for skiffs 16 feet and under, powered by an outboard no more than 30 horsepower with a skipper 16 years or younger to the fastest boat afloat races — no age limits on skippers and no horsepower limits.

Robbie Eaton in Making Knots won the skiff race.

The most anticipated races were the diesel and gasoline free-for-alls, followed by the Jimmy Stevens Cup for the fastest working lobster boat and the Fastest Lobstah Boat Afloat.

Andy Gove’s Uncle’s UFO, a Northern Bay 36 with a 900-hp Mack, won the Jimmy Stevens race at 43.7 mph, followed by the Lisa Marie, Blue Eyed Girl and Gramp’s Bird.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, or WTF as it is better known, a 28-foot Northern Bay with a 560-hp Fiat, was first at 47.4 mph in the Fastest Lobstah Boat Afloat race. For part of the race Little Girls, a 28-foot wooden lobster boat, with a 675-hp gasoline engine, was in the lead, but WTF pulled out ahead at the end. They were followed by Wild Wild West, Uncle’s UFO and Miss Katie.

There were a couple of no-shows. In the week since the Jonesport-Beals Island race, Galen Alley couldn’t fix his oil pressure problem on the 2,000-plus-horsepower Foolish Pleasure. And Alfred Osgood’s Starlight Express with a 900-hp Mack sporting four turbos reportedly had a heat exchanger problem solved but not in time for the race.

The next race is Aug. 9 in Winter Harbor.

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National Fisherman Live

National Fisherman Live: 9/23/14

In this episode:

'Injection' plan to save fall run salmon
Proposed fishing rule to protect seabirds
Council, White House talk monument expansion
Louisiana shrimpers hurt by price drop
Maine and New Hampshire fish numbers down

 

Inside the Industry

The Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative is introducing its Chef Ambassador Program. Created to inspire and educate chefs and home cooks across the country about the unique qualities of lobster from Maine, the program showcases how it can be incorporated into a range of inspired culinary dishes.

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More than a dozen higher education institutions and federal and local fishery management agencies and organizations in American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Hawaii have signed a memorandum of understanding aimed at building the capacity of the U.S. Pacific Island territories to manage their fisheries and fishery-related resources.

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