A Speck in the Sea

I’ve been reading some good books lately. A Speck in the Sea by lobstermen John Aldridge and Anthony Sosinski is one of them.

Subtitled “A story of survival and rescue”, it tells the story of how John fell overboard late one night and the subsequent search and rescue efforts.

I’ve always loved reading stories of disasters and survival. I like to see how people react to unusual circumstances and imagine what I might do if something happened to me. I read about nuclear wars and EMP attacks, alien invasions, the zombie apocalypse, global pandemics, environmental destruction and the more likely (for me personally) disaster at sea stories.

A Speck in the Sea is one of those.

As the Anna Mary motored out from Montauk late one night, John stood watch while his parters slept below. Instead of waking them up as planned, he decided to let them sleep a little longer and started to prepare for the fishing grounds instead.

One small ‘oops’ and he was over the side. In the middle of the night. In the North Atlantic. With nothing but the clothes on his back. With no one aware of his situation.

The book does a great job of telling the story from both sides: John tells what he’s thinking and doing while he’s bobbing around in the cold dark ocean. Anthony and the Coast Guard tell us what’s going on as they discover John’s missing and their reaction. The entire community gets involved. Yes, they would. The seafaring communities are still like that.

As a fisherman myself, with a brother who’s still trying to make a living out there, I could immediately relate. I admire John’s resourcefulness and will to survive. I’m not so sure I would react like he did. I have a much more pessimistic outlook on life. Still, it’s nice to know that it IS possible to survive.

If you’re into sea stories, or in how to survive the unexpected, you might like this book. I recommend it. 🙂

Fishing: Zanzibar

I saw this post come up in my Reader from the Daily Post, re: Fishing. I thought I should be able to come up with something. 😉

Here are a couple of photos from my recent trip to Zanzibar. The fishing was fantastic there, even if they were using very old fashioned methods (hand lines and setting nets by hand).

However they managed, the results were fantastic!

Into the Fray: Fishing For Tuna From the Pacific Breeze

Synonyms for fray

noun fight, battle

meleefracasdisturbanceriot, ruckusscuffleaffray,

contestrumpusbroilbrouhaha, conflict

 

I took a look at a few of the entries for this weeks Weekly Photo Challenge from the Daily Post (FRAY). Most of the ones I’ve seen so far seemed to flow from the use of the word as wear, erode, unravel, etc.

I already put up a post using the word ‘fray’ like that, but it also seemed like a good word to use to describe some of my experiences on the Pacific Breeze while tuna fishing. Sometimes, it really does feel like you’re ‘rushing into the fray’.

My photos don’t really do it justice. I only had a cheap point & shoot camera with me and most of the action took place a long way from where I was. I hope you can get the gist of the story from the few photos I’ll post here.

When the fish are showing, it can get like the Wild, Wild West out there at sea. There can be flashing schools of tuna as far as the eye can see and dozens of boats from a half a dozen countries all fighting for the chance to set their nets on the biggest schools of the best fish.

You better believe it is a SERIOUS business! It can get REALLY crazy!

It’s a real challenge. The fish are not as dumb as you might think. It’s not really that easy to catch them. They manage to escape before the net is set more times than not. Then we have to wait a couple of hours to get the net back onboard and everything readied before we can try again.

Yes, it is a real riot, the boats are definitely in a contest and sometimes engage in a scuffle. The fish are showing in a disturbance of the surface of the ocean and they broil at the surface. That is how we find them (along with the birds to lead the way).

The way it works with ‘school fish’ is that first we have to spot the school. The lookouts are up in the crows nest and report the sighting to the Fishmaster. He will decide if we are going to go any closer to check out the school.

We can spot the fish on the RADAR by their disturbance of the surface of the water. The large flocks of feeding seabirds also show up on the screen and help lead us to the fish.

Once we get closer, we can use our SONAR to look beneath the surface and get a better idea of what we’re looking at. The Fishmaster can get a lot of information on what kinds of fish are there, how many of them there are, the depth they’re at, etc. Then he will decide if it’s worth it for us to set the net.

If we do, the entire crew springs into action. A couple of guys will jump in the skiff boat. The Radio Officer will assist on the SONAR and RADAR. The engineers will be standing by in the engine room to make sure everything is OK with the power. A couple of guys will get ready to help keep the fish contained from the boat (they throw dye markers and pound on the boat to make noise-both of those the fish will avoid).

When the Fishmaster thinks the time is right, he will yell: “skiff booooooaaaaat……… LET GO!” and the skiff boat will drop off the stern of the boat with the end of the net attached. We will drive around the school of fish dropping the net as fast as we can while the guys throw out the dye markers and pound those hammers. It gets really exciting. 🙂

While we are rushing as fast as we can (not actually all that fast- maybe 10 knots tops), the speed boat and the net boat (and helicopter if the boat has one) will be doing all they can to keep the fish contained inside the area where we are setting the net around them. We need to get the net run around the whole school and then haul in the bottom of the net to close it before the fish get wise to the game and swim underneath it.

It’s such a great feeling. It gets really intense. Your adrenaline starts pumping, your concentration goes up. The challenge, the anticipation, the not-knowing, the feeling that you’re doing everything you can but it might all be for nothing. It can hook you along with the fish you’re trying to catch. I do love it! 🙂

Then it takes a couple of hours to haul in the net. We never really know what we’ve caught in there until we pull it up close enough to the boat to start ‘brailing’ it out. Usually, if we’re lucky it’s full of nice big amberjack tuna. And yes, they broil in the net! It’s always a thrill to count over 10 scoops (each one holds between 3-5 tons of fish). Lots of times it’s empty, the fish got away.

This is what a net full looks like when we’re brailing them out. If I remember right, this was a pretty good catch. 🙂

 

Just to clarify, the skiff boat is the one in the last photo holding open the net so we can brail it out. The speed boat is the little yellow one in the 3rd and 5th photo. The net boat is the one towards the bottom of the 5th photo, we use it to help hold the net open which makes it easier to haul it in.

 

Video: Overfishing

They did a pretty good job with this video. It is undeniable that we have been over fishing for years. For decades. Might even say centuries now that it’s 2013!

I grew up in a small fishing community. My father was a commercial fisherman for a while. So were a lot of his friends. So were a lot of my friends. I used to be one. My brother still is.

I remember how it used to be when I was still fishing and I see how my brother struggles now. There is no comparison.

We have been raping the ocean (along with the rest of the planet) for a LONG time. Since we have figured out how to take such overwhelming advantage, we have not been allowing nature to replenish what we use.

I don’t know of any practical way to eliminate by catch. I don’t know of any solution to all the issues of farmed fish. I don’t know of any solution to poaching.

I don’t know of any  REAL solution to any of these problems EXCEPT the one that no one will even consider and that is for us as a species to voluntarily limit OUR population. Give every human being a chance at a GOOD life and in the process also allow the rest of the planet some space and a chance to recover.

I hope I’m not the only one on this planet who thinks that other species have just as much a right to exist here as we do. They all have a place and a purpose and we do NOT have the right to just use to the point of abuse anything and everything we feel like.

Coming from a background of commercial fishing, I’m not sure about this video. I have serious doubts about turning ANYTHING over to the politicians. I do NOT think the politicians are the answer to ANYTHING!

WE ARE!!

I have a suggestion for the fisheries… how about we try something like leasing the fishing grounds. Lease the areas where the fish (and other marine life) gather, similar to how we do it with the oil in the ground.

Hold an auction, let the highest bidder win the rights to use (NOT abuse) a certain area of the ocean. The winner would be able to fish there and would also be responsible for protecting his asset. This should put a stop to the practice of taking everything there is to take before the next guy does.

Of course, this wouldn’t work for every type of fish, but lots of them are known to either live or migrate into certain specific places year after year. If we could lease those areas to the fishermen and hold them accountable, we might even be able to GROW the fish stocks instead of depleting them.

I really would like to see this kind of thing given a good chance before we go any further with the restrictions. I have read about how fishermen in Britain have property rights to the streams they fish in. It seems to work there.

Here’s a link to an article about how it works in Scotland…

http://www.adamsmith.org/80ideas/idea/18.htm.

Actually, that website has a LOT of really good ideas…

www.adamsmith.org/80ideas,

glad I found it this morning. 😉

Jeezum Crow That’s a Weird Lookin’ Lobstah | gCaptain

Jeezum Crow That’s a Weird Lookin’ Lobstah | gCaptain

Yeah, this IS pretty damn weird! I’ve never seen anything like this in nature. It makes me think somebody’s playing tricks. Anybody ever seen anything like this in nature?

Can Technology End Pirate Fishing? | gCaptain

Can Technology End Pirate Fishing? | gCaptain

I’m not sure where I sit on this one. On the one hand, I HATE how “they” are constantly spying on us, everywhere we go (NOT talking about just the fishermen- we are ALL spyed on continuously here in the supposed land of the free). On the other hand, I do agree that pirate fishing IS a problem and needs to be dealt with. I remember when I was sailing as captain of a tuna purse seiner in the South Pacific and we caught another boat we thought was fishing illegally. Against the objections of my crew, the 1st time we caught them, we gave them the benefit of the doubt. It was ‘possible’ (not very likely) that he was not cheating, so we didn’t report him. The 2nd time, we caught him doing the same thing, illegal fishing on a FAD (fish attracting device), I reported him to our (USA) fisheries dept, (after checking in with our port captain). They asked for and I sent in photos of the other fishing vessel. They never contacted me or anyone on my vessel again so although they SAID they were going to investigate, I don’t think they ever did. My fishmaster was furious the other guy was allowed to get away with it (illegal fishing operation) and I would not allow HIM to. So, the cheating goes on since no one is caught and punished even when there is evidence. The fish keep getting caught without any chance of replacing themselves and sooner or later they are going to run out in the Atlantic and Pacific, just like they did (bottom fish) here in the Gulf of Mexico years ago.