From the newly-established Commercial Fisheries News (CFN) “awards desk” this month, a couple of well-deserved bouquets.
First, to Laura Orleans and the board of the New Bedford Fishing Heritage Center Inc. (FHC).
Orleans’ name may already be familiar to many of you as she is the festival director of the highly successful New Bedford Working Waterfront.
She is now taking on an additional role as the FHC’s first executive director.
This newly-formed non-profit group, which has assembled a board comprised of key players from the local fishing community, has set its sights on an impressive and admirable mission.
The goal: to establish an actual brick-and-mortar facility within which they will house exhibits, archives, and programs dedicated to preserving and sharing the rich history of New Bedford’s commercial fishing industry and its culture.
This is a good thing and an effort that might have seemed unattainable just a few years back when New Bedford was at a serious disconnect with its fishing industry.
Many people and many factors have worked to change that relationship in recent times. Events like the Working Waterfront Festival have served to link the city, tourists and travelers from away, and even the national media, with the great treasure that resides on New Bedford’s working waterfront.
A treasure well worth preserving and presenting to a wider audience.
We wish the FHC board well in its efforts.
Secondly, we welcome back columnist Fred Mattera to these pages with this month’s SAFE BOAT-SMART BOAT feature.
Fred’s usual breakneck work pace suffered a bit recently when a freak virus laid him low.
But, being the trooper he is, Fred is back in action with a full schedule of safety training activities this spring, while still finding time to share his knowledge and insight with CFN readers.
In this issue, Fred begins a two-part series aimed at helping commercial fishing vessel owners understand and comply with safety requirements mandated by changes to the Coast Guard Authorization Act.
These changes have been a long time coming, are complex and difficult to understand, and – in many cases – will be expensive to implement.
Fred can’t change the rules, but he can at least help vessel owners prepare for the inevitable.
For that, another CFN bouquet.
Next, we toss out an equally well-deserved barb.
As you will read in these pages, if you haven’t already heard it on the news, a 23-year-old Vinalhaven man has pleaded guilty to making a hoax distress call to the Coast Guard last fall.
This is not the first of these incidents and will probably not be the last. But the sheer stupidity associated with these hoaxes is mind-numbing.
In this case, the Coast Guard wasted time and resources, put personnel at risk and diverted energy away from what could have been a real emergency – to pursue a seven-hour fruitless search for an apparent injured crewman on a fishing boat.
No such injury existed and, by its own estimate, the Coast Guard wasted more than $30,000 trying to run down this false report.
The financial cost notwithstanding, this is utter idiocy and should be punished to the full extent of the law – which in this case could mean up to six years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
We say throw a barb, and the book, at this guy. /cfn/
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