The 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.
Written by Michael Crowley
Thursday, 29 January 2015
It's Thursday, Jan. 29, two days after the Northeast's first blizzard of 2015 ripped its way up the coast. If winter wasn't in the air before it sure is now.
Winds over 50 miles an hour generated near whiteout conditions in some spots and left 2 to 3 feet of snow on the ground. In Massachusetts coastal homes were flooded from surging seas and when a seawall collapsed in Marshfield.
Yet at first glance there doesn't seem to be much damage to the Northeast's fishing community. A quick call to the Coast Guard found the only incidents related to the storm involved broken moorings for fishermen in New Hampshire and Maine. Things didn't seem to be much worse for Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut though that hadn't been confirmed.
It could have been a lot worse. Sure, it can always be a lot worse, but I'm talking WORSE — the February Gale of 1862.
Feb. 24 of that year, some 70 schooners out of Gloucester were anchored in close proximity on Georges Bank when a storm blew down out of the Northwest.
It came on so quickly there wasn't time to heave up anchors and run for deeper water to get away from one another. So they did what they could: post two lookouts, one on the fore gaff and another on the main, out of the way of boarding seas. Both were peering to windward — with snow and sleet driving at them, nearly blinding them, spray freezing against eyes, beards and hair — hoping to discern a vessel drifting down on them. If the boat could be seen soon enough, their anchor cable could be cut and a collision avoided. If the vessel couldn't be seen soon enough, the gale force winds would send the drifting schooner careening into the anchored vessel and both would probably sink.
Collisions happened a lot on Feb. 24, 1862. Thirteen schooners and their crews disappeared. Two more were abandoned and their crews rescued by other vessels. The human toll: 120 men, leaving 70 widows and 140 fatherless children.
George Procter's "The Fishermen's Memorial and Record Book" (originally published by Proctor Brothers, Gloucester, 1873) lists all 13 schooners and the crews that were lost, along with the value of the boat and what it was insured for.
Procter also gives an idea what it was like for those waiting back in Gloucester. "The anxiety of those having friends thus exposed was terrible to witness, and, as each vessel rounded Eastern Point, there was the most intense desire to learn her name, and to ascertain if those on board had seen anything of other vessels since the blow. Nearly every vessel met with more or less disaster, losing cable and anchors, booms, masts, or were so badly stove up as hardly to be able to get back to port. One by one they came along until the number narrowed down to thirteen, who with their crews had left port for their last fishing trip."
Written by Michael Crowley
Thursday, 22 January 2015
In the March 2013 issue of National Fisherman we carried a story on Alabama shrimper Randy Skinner's Winged Trawling System ("Winged trawls," p. 32). Instead of using wood or steel doors to hold open a shrimp trawl, Skinner invented an aluminum wing-like affair that spreads the net apart to its full 100 percent opening.
Thus you don't have to use the power of the boat to keep the net open. That saves fuel. As the wing travels through the water, it pushes fish away from it and the net. That reduces bycatch. The wing, however, doesn't affect shrimp behavior.
Since the winged trawl was introduced it's been mostly used in waters off Skinner's home state, but lately its benefits have attracted the attention of fishermen outside Alabama, even from as far away as Europe.
Fuel savings and bycatch reduction are the two main benefits to using the winged trawl. In a conversation last week, Skinner said his fuel savings are 30 to 50 percent on a 65' x 20' trawler powered by a pair of 350-hp Cummins engines.
"The last trip was 14 days. I burned 2,000 gallons," he said. If he'd towed doors instead of the winged trawl he would have burned 3,000 gallons.
As for bycatch reduction, Skinner said he's been making some "incredible tows — over 50 percent bycatch reduction. Whatever bycatch you get out of a 10-foot trynet equals about what you have out of two 45-foot wings."
Those kinds of results have attracted an outfit in Denmark that runs 80 shrimpers off West Africa. Representatives from that company are due to go out on an Alabama shrimper pulling winged trawls in January.
A pair of winged trawls is headed to North Carolina, where state fisheries specialists will test them. And Skinner said outfits in South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana and Texas have expressed an interest in the winged trawls.
Within the next 45 days a NOAA grant will allow winged trawls to be matched up against traditional doors and a net. "We'll pull trawl doors on one side, pull a wing opposite it with an identical net and do it for 30 days," Skinner said. "We'll document everything that falls out of the net."
The University of New Orleans will be doing the documentation and NMFS in Pascagoula, Miss., will write up the study.
Clearly, Skinner's Winged Trawling System is ready to move beyond the waters of Alabama.
Written by Leslie Taylor
Thursday, 15 January 2015
Are you a longliner plagued with a shark bycatch problem? Well, not to worry. The Super Polyshark just might be the thing to keep sharks away from your hooks. This is a semiochemical shark repellent that when added to bait forms an odor plume in the water that repels sharks.
It was tested in Florida’s swordfish fishery and reduced shark bycatch by as much as 70 percent, while maintaining the target catch rate. Super Polyshark also holds the promise of reducing shark bycatch in tuna and swordfish longline fisheries around the world.
That’s why Super Polyshark’s designers, Florida researchers Eric Stroud and Patrick Rice won a $10,000 runner-up prize in the 2014 World Wildlife Fund’s International Smart Gear Competition. WWF started the competition in 2004 to develop innovative but practical fishing gear to reduce the decline of fish and other marine species caused by bycatch.
The prize for the second runner-up went to a German group made up of scientists and fishermen who came up with the Freswind (Flatfish Rigid Escape Windows) to release flatfish from a trawl.
Generally, a grid system in a trawl is better at releasing round fish than flatfish. Using behavioral differences between fish species, the developers of Freswind determined the most appropriate angle and spacing of vertical bars within a grid to reduce flatfish bycatch. The results have shown a bycatch reduction of 54 to 66 percent.
Of the 26 albatross species that have been identified, 25 are listed as endangered, and longline fishing is a big reason for those declines. Thus when a Dutch team came up with an innovative idea to reduce bycatch in longline fisheries that is also in improvement over the use of streamer lines, they were awarded a $7,500 Special Bycatch Reduction in Tuna Fisheries Prize.
The Seabird Saver uses a laser and optional acoustic stimulus to keep birds away from fishing areas, thus reducing bird bycatch while not affecting the catch rate.
The laser’s beam and the “scattering” effect when it hits the waves is said to be a powerful bird deterrent. It’s seen as a threat and the birds move away. The laser is designed so that it won’t cause retinal damage to the birds.
As opposed to streamer lines, the Seabird Saver should be able to be used in strong wind conditions, which restricts the use of streamer lines.
OK. Now the $30,000 Grand Prize. It went to a group of Norwegians for a device to reduce bycatch in purse seine fisheries. A problem with mackerel, herring, capelin, anchovy and sardine fisheries is when the net is pursed up close to the boat, and it is discovered the fish are the wrong size or quality, they have to be “slipped” or released. Because of high stress levels and fish being jammed up against each other, this results in a lot of dead fish.
The Air Powered Sampling System allows fishermen to obtain a sample of the fish before they are brought next to the boat. The Air Powered Sampling System consists of a mini trawl packed into a plastic tube that’s loaded into a pneumatic line thrower.
The plastic tube is shot into the purse seine up to 50 meters away. When a length of thin line is stretched out, it pulls the trawl out of the tube just before it hits the water. The tube and trawl sink into the purse seine, gathering a sampling of fish, and are then pulled back to the boat with a small hydraulic winch. If the fish are not the right size or quality, the purse seine can be opened up and the fish released without a high mortality rate.
Markets for the Air Powered Sampling System are considered to be the North Sea herring fishery, sardine fisheries of West Africa, and the anchovy fisheries of Peru.
A question has to be what will happen to these ideas? Do they ever get on a boat? Once the prizes are awarded, the WWF says it works with each winner to see their idea implemented in fisheries. Forty percent “of the winning ideas identified by the competition in previous years are being used regularly in different types of fisheries,” says Bill Fox, WWF’s fisheries vice president in a press release.
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Written by Linc Bedrosian
Tuesday, 30 December 2014
The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 called for fishing boats to meet survey and classification requirements if they are 50 feet and over, operate outside of three miles and are built after July 1, 2013. The regulation has been called a huge cultural change.
Critics said the fishing industry had virtually "no input" in the law, and making matters worse has been the lack of guidelines describing a classed boat from any of the possible classification societies: American Bureau of Shipping, DNV GL (previously Det Norske Veritas), Lloyd's Register, Bureau Veritas or Germanischer Lloyd.
Some of that mystery was cleared up this past November at Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle when DNV GL's Joar Bengaard talked about some of DNV GL's classing requirements contained in a November 2014, 90-page document, "Rules for Domestic Class U.S. fishing Vessels."
This might not be the final version, as it is labeled "Tentative Rules v6.7."
DNV GL's classifying standards apply to boats from 50 to 148 feet overall length. Larger boats fall under DNV GL's Rules for Classification of Ships. If a boat has speeds in excess of 15 knots, different rules apply.
Classing a boat starts with the builder submitting a request for classifications and the builder or designer then submitting plans and specifications to DNV GL.
Construction inspections will take place, with DNV GL determining their frequency and duration. Once completed, the boat has a class certificate valid for five years, and the boat will be subject to annual surveys. Bengaard said in some cases the owner may do those surveys.
The 90-page document covers just about everything that goes into a boat's construction and operation. That includes DNV GL approval of welding procedures, stability requirements for various loading conditions, anchoring and mooring equipment.
The rules also establish requirements for certification of materials, components and systems. That could mean classing machinery such as engines and gears, which could be costly, but Bengaard said, "Not many materials and equipment will be classed." Industry accepted standards would be substituted for a rigorous classifying procedure. Though that might not apply to shafting and switchboards. DNV GL will have to certify and approve new machinery and components that have not previously been used in the fishing industry.
In summary, there's a lot in this publication, but I'm sure any qualified naval architect is familiar with most if not all of it, and why a fisherman has to pay for a classification society to get between him and the naval architect, I still don't understand.
Lastly, the rules are for a boat, as stated above, between 50 and 148 feet. I suspect that what goes into a 145-foot boat in terms of structural members, stability and watertight integrity is different from what is required for a 58 footer. In fact, the rules in the document are partly based on DNV GL's Rules for Classification of Ships.
Might it not have been more practical to have DNV GL's class rules apply to boats 50 to 79 feet?
But take a look at the document, because if you are going to be building a 50-foot or longer boat, these standards will apply to you.
Written by Leslie Taylor
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
The Marinebeam Ultra Long Range RLT illuminator, which lights up objects up to 700 yards away, and other reviewed products could make a great Christmas gift for some lucky fisherman (read: you).
Yup. It’s near the end of December and darn near Christmas Eve. Kids are humming carols and dreaming of eight tiny reindeer gently landing a sleigh full of toys and the jolly old guy on their roof.
Your boat is tied to the dock or buttoned up for the winter and you are out and about with a pocket jammed with lists of Christmas gifts. You better get with it because there’s not much time before those gifts need to be under the Christmas tree.
Unfortunately, you almost always forget someone. Who's that someone? You know, it’s you. So I’m here to remind you that it’s not unlawful to treat yourself with a Christmas gift, and if that gift comes in handy out on the boat than so much the better — and hey! I’m not talking about a slug of Jack.
To assist with your personal gift selection, once again I’m providing a few Christmas ideas from National Fisherman’s 2014 Product Roundup and At A Glance pages. Here are four items that will be a worthy gift for you-know-who.
A fire is one of the worst things that can happen on a boat. Put it out quickly and things will usually be all right. Let it go and the boat is history. To make sure you are around for many more Christmas celebrations, I would suggest the DSPA-5, an aerosol-based fire suppression and extinguishing system in the January 2014 issue.
Pull the pin on the handheld, disc-shaped canister toss it in the fire area and close the door. It takes 8 seconds to fire off. A simulated engine-room fire was out in 7 seconds and a galley fire in six seconds. Can’t beat that — other than not having a fire at all.
OK. So you’ve dealt with the fire thing. It was pretty stressful; listening to some tunes might help you relax. NF’s March issue spotlighted an add-on module for the Fusion 600 Series stereos. The MS-BT100 lets you stream audio via Bluetooth with mobile device controls. So wherever you are on the boat — rock out!
Here’s something from our September issue that will come in handy on a boat or on land, whether looking for a marker buoy or the dog that’s taken off into the woods. It’s the Marinebeam Ultra Long Range RLT Illuminator. That’s a long-winded name for what looks like a regular flashlight.
Unlike a flashlight, however, it lights up boats, mooring buoys and dogs at 500 to 700 yards away. The secret is a very concentrated beam without any spillover light.
For the last item, I’m going to stray from the original premise of thinking of you. You take the kids out on the boat, right? Well, just as you need to be wearing a PFD, so do the kids. From NF’s May issue comes the Lil’ Legends, a Mustang Survival PFD for kids from 0 to 90 pounds.
Lil’ Legends came about because so many parents complained that their kids wouldn’t wear life jackets because they were uncomfortable and didn’t fit. So get your kid one of these. It will give you peace of mind and keep him alive. Can’t be a better gift than that.
See you next Christmas with another list. Ho ho ho!Add a comment Add a comment
Written by Michael Crowley
Thursday, 11 December 2014
It looks like 68,000 commercial fishermen can take a long, deep sigh of relief. That's how many fishermen would have been affected by the Environmental Protection Agency's pollution regulation with the long-winded title Small Vessel General Permit for Discharges Incidental to the Normal Operation of Vessels Less than 79 feet. The shortened version is sVGP.
The regulation was designed to reduce incidental discharges for boats operating within three miles of the coast and in the Great Lakes. But yesterday afternoon — Dec. 10 — that requirement was put on hold when Congress passed the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act of 2014, which included a three-year extension of the moratorium on vessel discharge permitting. The moratorium was due to expire Dec. 18.
Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) had pushed for a permanent moratorium but that effort didn't succeed.
Enactment of the sVGP would have required things such as annual inspections, plenty of paper work and the use of environmentally acceptable lubricants in all machinery that might discharge the lubricant into the water.
That last requirement could be expensive. It's estimated that environmentally acceptable lubricants can cost $1,200 for 100 liters versus $350 for regular lubricants.
Now that's something fishermen won't have to worry about — at least for three years. That assumes President Obama signs the bill and there's no reason to think he won't.
Written by Linc Bedrosian
Tuesday, 02 December 2014
A fisherman goes overboard, swirled away by wind and waves, never to be seen, or a boat slides stern first beneath the surface, dragging its crew with it. Left behind is a fog of grief — memories of what had been and the pain of knowing there's no going forward with that person.
For families of fishermen in the North Pacific and Bering Sea fleets, a group that has stepped forward to aid those left behind is the Seattle Fishermen's Memorial, an organization that promotes safety at sea and tries to ease the emotional and financial burdens of bereaved families.
It provides grief counseling at no charge, and when the son or daughter of a deceased fisherman is ready for college, they can apply for scholarships funded by the memorial.
In fact, no scholarship applicants have been turned away in recent years. In the current 2014–15 school year, 10 students received scholarships at a cost of $186,577. Money for the scholarship fund is raised at the Seattle Fisherman's Memorial dinner. This year, as in the past, it was held at Chinook's restaurant in Fishermen's Terminal, the night before the opening of Pacific Marine Expo.
Sponsors for the dinner include seafood companies, equipment manufacturers, boatyards, banks, insurance companies, law firms, and, yes, National Fisherman. Most of them send representatives to the dinner.
A silent auction of more than 100 items started the dinner. In the mix were 30 pounds of crab ($400 value); a night for four at Seattle's Teatro Zinzanni, a celebration of cirque, comedy and cabaret ($600 value); a photograph of a dory taken in Tenant's Harbor, Maine ($100 value).
A dinner of crab, scallops, shrimp and Alaska king salmon followed, along with a skillet chocolate pecan pie. Then the serious auction got underway.
Seventeen big-ticket items were sold off in a live auction. They included a four-night stay in Maui or Kauai, plus $1,000 air credit that went for $4,100. A salmon barbecue for 50 at the bidder's home or Pacific Fisherman Shipyard sold for $3,600. Wine tasting and appetizers for 30 at Alexandria Nicole Cellars was a steal at $2,800 ($3,200 value).
Another banquet night fundraiser is the "Raise the paddle for Seattle Fishermen's Memorial." As the auctioneer called out levels of financial giving, you held up your bidding card to make a donation. In six minutes, the memorial netted $37,000.
At the end of the night, including donations from sponsors, more scholarship money had been raised then ever before — just over $300,000.
It's money that will be well spent. Michaela Long, one of this year's scholarship recipients and the daughter of Michael Long who was lost on the Aleutian Challenger, wrote Seattle Fishermen's Memorial:
"I am very thankful for this scholarship to help with the costs of school. I like knowing that this is helping my mom in covering the cost of college for me and my three brothers, as we are all in college this year. My dad would be very excited to know that I am continuing my education and that somehow the industry he loved so much was having a part in it."
Written by Leslie Taylor
Thursday, 20 November 2014
Hands that are painful to open, a sore back, shoulders that constantly ache — all these and more are aliments that seem to be part of the commercial fishing game.
“I had times when I couldn’t feel my hands when fishing,” says Jerry Dzugan at his Wednesday presentation on “Strains, Sprains and Pains: Ergonomics for Mariners” at the Keynote Stage.
Dzugan, now with the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association, says, “All mariners have problems with these injuries but not much is being done about it.”
Dzugan and AMSEA are trying to change that with training sessions and presentations like yesterday’s showing fishermen that by changing tools and the work area they can be more efficient, comfortable and work longer with less pain.
Using a video with photos and drawings — plus audience participation — Dzugan showed the effects of improper lifting and bad posture.
Dzugan offered bits of advice: avoid twisting the spine to lift something; when cleaning fish, keep the work 4 to 6 inches below the elbow; keep a load close to the body; and tighten stomach muscles and exhale when lifting.Add a comment Add a comment
Written by Leslie Taylor
Wednesday, 19 November 2014
If you want to build a new fishing boat that’s over 50 feet and fishes outside of three miles, it’s going to cost you a lot more money than it did before July 1, 2013, because it now has to be designed, constructed and maintained to classification society standards.
You will also run up additional costs on boats 79 feet and over that now must be load-lined. The new rules were developed in the 2010 Coast Guard Authorization Act.
If you're attending Pacific Marine Expo, you can learn how to negotiate through the Authorization Act’s rules at the Classification and Load Lines for Fishing Boats conference today at 3 p.m. in Room C1.
After giving a brief history of the new rules, naval architects Hal Hockema and John Myers, both of Hockema & Whalen Associates in Seattle, will guide you through both the issues involved with having a boat meet load line approval and working with a classification society. They’ll discuss what to expect during the designing and building process and after the boat is completed.Add a comment Add a comment
Written by Leslie Taylor
Thursday, 13 November 2014
OK guys and gals. Listen up! It’s that time again. It’s time for Pacific Marine Expo. In case you’ve been dozing in the bunk for the past couple of months, dreaming of plugged fish holds and wild nights on the town between trips, well shake it up because PME starts next Wednesday, Nov. 19, and runs for three days at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field Event Center.
It’s the perfect place to find the newest fishing gear, electronics, clothing, engines — you name it. Just about anything that’s needed for your boat will be there. Lots of people have outfitted new boats and repair projects right on the show floor. Bring a shopping list and wander the aisles. I guarantee you a lot of things can be had at less than top dollar.
There are also plenty of conferences and talks: some will help you fish safer, some will help you get organized to save time and money and a couple will explain pending rules and regulations. An example of the latter is the program on Friday, “An Update on Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Mandates and Development of Alternate Safety Compliance Programs” with the Coast Guard’s Jack Kemerer and Troy Rentz and Joar Bengaard, a consultant with DNV GL in Houston.
Then there’s the talk on a subject that periodically must drift across every fisherman’s vision. That’s Wednesday’s keynote address when John Aldridge, a New York lobsterman, talks about how, after falling overboard, he survived 12 hours in the water with only a pair of boots to keep him afloat.
At the end of the day, it’s time for happy hour in the ZF beer garden. Each day there will be a drawing there for a pair of tickets to see the Seattle Seahawks host the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, Nov. 23.
So get there anyway you can: bus, car, plane, side-door Pullman — that’s a boxcar — and we’ll see you there. In the beer garden for sure.Add a comment Add a comment
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The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced last week the sixth round of grant awards from its Fisheries Innovation Fund, a program launched in 2010 to foster innovations that support sustainable fisheries in the United States.
The goal of the Fisheries Innovation Fund is to sustain fishermen and fishing communities while simultaneously rebuilding fish stocks.Read more...
Alaskan Leader Fisheries will give Inmarsat’s new high-speed broadband maritime communications service, Fleet Xpress, a try on the 150-foot longline cod catcher/processor Alaskan Leader.