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NOAA gets a new

fisheries vessel

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has taken delivery of the first in a series of fisheries survey vessels from VT Halter Marine of Pascagoula, Miss. Named for late Alaskan fishing industry leader Oscar Dyson, the 208-footer is NOAA’s first newly constructed fisheries survey vessel in more than 25 years.

The Oscar Dyson is the first of four such ships to be delivered, all of which will have the ability to perform hydro-acoustic fish surveys. They also will be able to conduct bottom and midwater trawls while running physical and biological-oceanographic sampling during a single deployment — a combined capability unavailable in the private sector, according to NOAA.

Oscar Dyson was to depart Pascagoula in late January or early February, with a transit of the Panama Canal scheduled for February. A several- week stopover is planned in the Pacific Northwest for post-delivery shakedown cruises and outfitting. The ship then will sail for its homeport of Kodiak, Alaska, in the spring to begin operations. Its primary mission will be to monitor the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska fisheries, particularly Alaskan pollock, the nation’s largest single fishery and the fourth largest in value.

Drug use a concern

among captains, crews

The National Marine Charter Association says the Coast Guard’s random drug-testing requirements for this year reflect a “significant problem among licensed mariners that needs focus and attention.”

Federal regulations mandate that employers in the transportation industry test 50 percent of their safety-sensitive employees each year. That number drops to 25 percent if a sector has an overall positive rate of less than 1 percent. For example, airlines and railroads have been able to drop to that 25-percent level. The marine industry, however, has remained at 50 percent because 2.07 percent of its captains and crews tested positive for drugs in 2003, according to NMCA. In fact, that rate shows an increase from 1.8 percent in 2002.

Overall, Department of Transportation positive-result rates have fallen from 2.6 percent to 1.9 percent since 1999. “The key to a compliant program, and keeping positive rates down, is an effective deterrence and detection program requiring pre-employment and for-cause testing,” says Melissa Moskal, NMCA executive director, in a statement.

Marine photographer

to speak at symposium

Noted yachting photographer Benjamin Mendlowitz will keynote the Classic Yacht Symposium April 1 to 3 at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I. The event, co-sponsored by the Herreshoff Marine Museum/America’s Cup Hall of Fame and the New England Section of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, will feature guest speakers, papers and presentations on all types of classic yacht restorations and replications by many well-known names in the field.

“Ben Mendlowitz’s love of classic wooden boats, as well as his keen ability to capture dramatic and dynamic images of proud vessels under sail, have established him as one of the world’s pre-eminent marine photographers,” says Halsey C. Herreshoff, president the museum, also located in Bristol.

Mendlowitz has traveled the world photographing wooden boats for most of his career. He is well-known in the marine community for his contributions to nautical publications and for his annual Calendar of Wooden Boats, which he has published since 1983.

For more information call the museum at (401) 253-5000.

California outlaws

teak surfing

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a ban on teak surfing, effective May 1. The Anthony Farr and Stacey Beckett Boating Safety Act prohibits teak surfing — holding on to a boat’s swim platform or stern ladder and letting go to ride the wake — and requires boat owners to have carbon monoxide warning labels affixed to their vessels, one inside the boat and one on the transom.

“Boats were never intended to be used in this manner,” says Monita Fontaine, vice president of government relations for the National Marine Manufacturers Association. “For boaters to put themselves in danger of placing themselves so close to the exhaust and propeller of a moving vessel, particularly without wearing personal flotation devices, is one of the most dangerous things to do out on the water.”