Blog Authors | Oceana USA

Blog Posts by: Phil

July 11, 2006

The new deck crane being installed over the next few days in Roses, Catalonia, will make many of the current operations more efficient and open some new possibilities. Right now just getting the divers and their equiptment in and out of the water is a three ring circus and not altogether safe for the delicate camera gear.

I fully understand all the variables when it comes to working on the ocean and would have liked more time at sea. I did however get to experience all of ranger's current projects happening during this time frame. Helping to host Miguel Bose was an important treat. He's real superstar here in italy, Mexico and else where able to pack the biggest venues. I watched one of his concerts in Mexico last year where about 100,000 fans turned out. X's crew put together a great documentary / testimonial both under the water and on land. For out Spanish speaking friends it'll have a huge impact and help the popularity of Oceana. Wed I'm taking the overnight train to Madrid to work with our staff there thurs and Fri before having a weekend in Madrid flying back early Mon morning. Ted Morton has set up some major hill work with our MFCN colleagues for Wednesday the 19th. I'll be one of the most sun baked Capitol hill rats next week.

July 6-9, 2006

My first week on the Ranger was spent doing a variety of work in the coastal waters around Cagliari. This work included several dives documenting marine life and patrolling south of Sardinina along the 1000 meter depth curve for illegal driftnet fishing operations. This diary is about our crossing the Western Mediterranean from Cagliari to Rosas Spain a trip of a little over 330 miles of open ocean.

The Ranger is basically a motor sailer with limited capabilities to sail upwind and with only one fully functional engine our cruising speed in good conditions is about 6 knots. Bucking into head winds presents it's own set of difficulties. Ranger is very stable even in somewhat rough conditions, something I'd learn about a couple of days from port.

We estimated if we had fair conditions the crossing would take 4 full days, as the saying goes "the best laid plans ---" Xavier has assembled a first rate crew with extensive experience in the different skills needed to mount high seas expeditions. After already having spent a week on the Ranger I felt good that we'd be able to handle whatever mother nature sent our way and this proved to be the case.

Watch teams of three were assigned with two four hour watches daily. My watch was from 4-8 pm and again 4-8 am. The early morning watch has always been one of my favorites greeting each new day with the sun rise. My watch mates were Albert a licensed merchant marine officer and Juan a very enthusiastic young photographer, a great combination to spend so many hours with.

Congressman Hefley has once again shown the courage of his convictions by indroducing the "Ocean Habitat Protection Act".

Mr Hefley's bill, HR 2673, would limit the attachments, rock hoppers and rollers, to the bottom of trawl nets in order to protect sensitive habitats from the destruction large bottom trawl nets cause in hard bottom sensitive habitat areas. This is a very effective way to stop this unnecessary destruction of ocean habitats by requiring no attachmnets to trawl nets larger than 8 inches. This modification of existing bottom trawl nets prevents the nets from being fished (pulled thru) rocky areas as the nets would become entangled in the rocks.

Not being from a coastal state and taking a lead on protecting ocean habitats shows real courage as coastal members of Congress tend to avoid controversal issues that affect their local fishermen - even if it's the right thing to do as indicated by the best science. Mr. Hefley challenged the House leadership over ethic violations last year and is doing the right thing again in his attempt to protect sensitive ocean habitats - another controversial issue. Kudos to Representative Hefley.

Jerry Fraser's recent editorial ("A Dual Assault") in National Fisherman's e-newsletter was very misguided and only repeated the industry song of denial when it comes to dealing with destructive fishing issues in a straightforward manner. The science on the impacts of bottom trawling is not a grey area. The NRC report on this issue clearly says that bottom trawling has adverse impacts on structured habitat.

The science on the habitat needs of juvenile cod is also very clear - juvenile cod need places to hide from predators for survival. Juvenile cod habitats are still subject to being flattened by trawling and dredging, cod are still depleted, the NE fishing industry is still suffering the economic conquences and the only option left to seek habitat protection is through the courts.

The National Marine Fisheries Service did the cod, cod fishermen, and our oceans a huge disservice by approving management plans that failed to protect their critical habitats. Mr. Fraser would better serve the needs of the fishing industry by writing stories about responsible ocean use and encourage the industry to proactively address this and other desructive fishing practices. It's only going to be when we are all working for healthy oceans that the NE fishing industry can once again thrive. It's not all about catching more fish it's about fishing sustainably and healthy fish populations need healthy habitats. Ask the habitat scientists in NE what needs to be done. Their recommendations are not what NMFS recently approved, actually quite the opposite.