Written by Adrianne Madden
Thursday, 02 April 2009
I think my dictionary is broken. Its definition of the word "harass" seems different from that of federal officials.
According to my well-worn copy of Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, tenth edition, the definition of the verb "harass" reads as follows:
"1 a: EXHAUST, FATIGUE b: to annoy persistently 2: to worry and impede by repeated raids"
But apparently the word has an additional meaning because a Cape Cod fisherman who last summer freed a humpback whale that was caught up in his fishing gear faces charges of harassing whales.
Robert J. Eldridge of West Chatham, Mass., faces a maximum penalty of a $100,000 fine, a year in jail and a year on probation if he's convicted of the criminal misdemeanor. Yesterday he pleaded innocent on three charges of violations of the federal Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
The Hyannis, Mass.-based Cape Cod Times reports http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090402/NEWS/904020314/-1/NEWS06 that Eldridge and his crew worked for 20 to 30 minutes to free the whale, which reportedly swam away unharmed. Eldridge later cooperated with a NOAA investigator, describing how the incident unfolded. The U.S. Attorneys office subsequently determined charges should be brought.
Perhaps, in this litigious age, federal officials are acting cautiously and to the letter of the law, especially where a protected species is concerned. Hence, a fisherman who tried to do the right thing faces a big fine and jail time for his trouble.
It'll be interesting to see how the case plays out in court. We'll keep the folks at Merriam Webster posted.
National Fisherman Live: 3/10/15
In this episode, Online Editor Leslie Taylor talks with Mike McLouglin, vice president of Dunlop Industrial and Protective Footwear.
National Fisherman Live: 2/24/15
In this episode:
March date set for disaster aid dispersal
Oregon LNG project could disrupt fishing
NOAA tweaks gear marking requirement
N.C. launches first commercial/recreational dock
Spiny lobster traps limits not well received
NMFS announced two changes in regulations that apply to federal fishing permit holders starting Aug. 26.
First, they have eliminated the requirement for vessel owners to submit “did not fish” reports for the months or weeks when their vessel was not fishing.
Some of the restrictions for upgrading vessels listed on federal fishing permits have also been removed.Read more...
Alaskans will meet with British Columbia’s Minister of Energy and Mines, Bill Bennett, when he visits Juneau next week and will ask him to support an international review of mine developments in northwest British Columbia, upstream from Southeast Alaska along the Taku, Stikine and Unuk transboundary rivers.
Some Alaska fishing and environmental groups believe an international review is the best way to develop specific, binding commitments to ensure clean water, salmon, jobs and traditional and customary practices are not harmed by British Columbia mines and that adequate financial assurances are in place up front to cover long-term monitoring and compensation for damages.Read more...