Archives For Fishing
Injuries not life-threatening, officials say
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Firefighters in Foxborough rescued two men who fell into a reservoir while ice fishing on Sunday, officials say.
The men were ice fishing at Neponset Reservoir when they fell through the ice, firefighters said. A woman tried to rescue them, but then called 911 after she fell through the ice trying to get to the men.
Both men were in the water for about 10 to 15 minutes before being rescued, officials said. A 41-year-old man whose body temperature dropped was taken to a Boston hospital by a medical helicopter that landed at a Gillette Stadium practice field, according to firefighters. A man in his 60s was transported to Norwood Hospital.
Neither man’s injuries are considered life-threatening.
“I don’t know what they’re doing out there on the ice,” Foxborough Fire Capt. Thomas Buckley said. “If you walk out there you’ll see that half the ice is gone.”
Some young lobstermen say they can’t afford coverage
PORTLAND, Maine — Maine lobstermen seemed a likely group to sign up for health care coverage under President Barack Obama’s landmark law.
They face such job hazards as getting tangled in traps and dragged into the ocean.
Ever present is the possibility of injury from the physically demanding labor. And in a field made up of independent contractors, there are no companies providing insurance, so many are uninsured.
In the past several months advocates set out to educate lobstermen and their families about the law, listening to their concerns and signing up hundreds of the 5,000 or so lobstermen who work off the coast of Maine for insurance through the marketplaces created under the law. That sign-up rate is seen as a win by the advocates, who say many more have likely enrolled without their knowledge.
“The response from our outreach has been very, very good,” said Brian Delaney, a spokesman for Fishing Partnership Support Services, an organization working in Maine that was responsible for reducing the percentage of uninsured fishermen in Massachusetts from 40 to 10 in just one year more than a decade ago.
In Maine, the split between those signing up and those who aren’t is roughly the same as in other industries and other parts of the country. Older, sicker workers with families are paying for insurance plans, while younger lobstermen tend to go without, as are those who said cost was a concern, according to interviews with more than a dozen lobstermen and advocates who’ve worked with hundreds more.
Some lobstermen found they qualified for improved plans.
“It’s better than any insurance that I’ve have in the last 30 years,” said Arnold Gamage, a 61-year-old lobsterman from South Bristol who stopped paying for health insurance last year because, with an estimated annual salary of $60,000, he could no longer afford a plan that covered the heart medication he needs.
His new plan, through one of the two providers on Maine’s insurance marketplace, costs $480 a month, compared with the $780 he paid before. The deductible for him and his wife was cut in half, to $5000.
Delaney’s group and the Maine Lobstermen’s Association have spoken to 1,600 lobstermen and their spouses at more than 70 events. They estimate they have signed up several hundred lobstermen directly, though it is not clear how many of those people were already insured. Neither group tracked that figure.
Still, a quarter of licensed lobstermen in Maine fish without the safety net of insurance, according to a Gulf of Maine Research Institute survey conducted in 2005, the most recent data available. That tally doesn’t include crew members.
Gamage’s younger colleagues are mainly choosing to go without, saying the cost of insurance outweighs the risks of the job. Such so-called young invincibles are a prime target of the law; their relatively good health balances out the sicker, older people signing up for insurance and lowers the overall risk for insurers and prices for consumers. But even the perils of life on a lobster boat have not been enough to draw this group to insurance.
“The young ones, in my experience, don’t care about signing up,” said Sheila Dassatt, director of the Downeast Lobstermen’s Association.
The cost of health insurance is a common concern among lobstermen, even after they figure in the subsidies from the government that reduce the monthly payments as well as deductibles through federal aid and tax credits, said April Gilmore of the Lobstermen’s Association. She is working as a navigator, a person who helps educate people on the law and sign them up for insurance.
In addition to income, young lobstermen also cited startup costs as they enter the trade as a reason for going without insurance.
“I’m only 21, so I am going to forgo it and bet on the fact that I am young and physically able,” said Will Lent, who lives on Cliff Island and fishes off the coast of Portland. He found a plan on the government marketplace for $115 a month but said that was too much considering a major injury would prevent him from earning a living regardless of whether he had insurance.
“You really got to weigh if what you are spending equals what you are getting,” he said.
It’s not that lobstermen don’t want insurance, Gilmore said. Many just can’t afford it, she said.
Insurance representatives in Maine have said the greatest factors affecting subsidies are family and income, which must be estimated, taking into account fluctuating lobster prices, seasonal income and unpredictable catches. They also must declare boats worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and worry that such assets will prevent them for qualifying for federal aid.
While lobstermen trying to buy insurance can base their income on past years, many worry that underestimating their income could result in fines for receiving undeserved subsidies, further complicating the application process, Gilmore said.
“They don’t have a human resources department,” she said.
Fish is often called “brain food” and pregnant women are encouraged to eat it. There’s just one, ah, catch: Fish also may have mercury, which can harm the developing brain.
Chitin is the stuff of shrimp shells, insect armor and butterfly wings – and now of a small collection of chess pieces, party cups and egg cartons in a lab at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.
Nearly 70 House members on Monday implored Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to abandon plans to overhaul the nation’s poultry inspection system with a slate of new regulations. The Hill, District of Columbia.
Federal regulations for reporting toxic chemicals in consumer products have not changed in decades, but Vermont is poised to join other states to label – and possibly ban – products containing chemicals considered harmful to public health. VTDigger, Vermont.
The growth of fracking brings with it a heavy demand for water, and that’s straining water supplies, often in drought-prone areas. The conflict over water has fueled adoption of new water reuse and recycling techniques. The Guardian
Democrats and Republicans blamed each other after the legislative session ended last week with little agreement on how to deal with increasing numbers of oil trains entering Washington state. Associated Press
Maine briefed in 2010 about contaminated lobster
PORTLAND, Maine —State officials were briefed about high levels of mercury contamination in lobsters caught around the mouth of the Penobscot River more than three years before the Department of Marine Resources shut the area down for fishing this week, according to a group of scientists involved in studying the contamination.
Preliminary results from the federally mandated study carried out as part of a lawsuit against a chemical company blamed for dumping tons of mercury into the river were presented to state officials in September 2010, according to three of the scientists.
The Maine Department of Marine Resources, which shut down the contaminated area for fishing this week, said it didn’t learn of the contamination until November 2013.
Chris Whipple, a member of the Penobscot River Mercury Study Panel, said that officials from the Maine Department of Marine Resources, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife were among those invited to the presentation.
Drew Bodaly, the study’s project leader, and biologist Dianne Kopec said they recalled seeing “numerous” Maine state officials at the meeting in Portland.
“They were somewhat aware of what we were doing,” said Whipple, who works for the environmental consulting firm Environ International Corporation, specializing in radioactive waste, air pollutants and mercury. “I don’t think it’s accurate to say the (final) report was a total surprise to them.”
Jeff Nichols, a spokesman for the state Department of Marine Resources, said the department first heard of the research in November 2013, when it was brought to their attention by Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association.
The Department of Marine Resources then asked state toxicologist Andrew Smith from the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to analyze the study’s data and decided to close the area based on his findings, Nichols said.
“It is important to note too that the state isn’t party to this litigation,” said DMR spokesman Jeff Nichols. “When we found out about it (the study), we took immediate action and took this conservative measure.”
Details from the study have been made publicly available through court filings shortly after each phase of the project was presented in court in 2007, 2009 and 2013.
“When a report was completed we submitted it to the court, the court reviewed it, and after a short period of time it was docketed, usually within a month,” Kopec said.
Study results from 2009 are posted on the state Department of Environmental Protection’s website, although it’s unclear when it was actually posted.
The slow dissemination of the findings was first reported by the Portland Press Herald.
The federally mandated study was carried out as part of a lawsuit involving the now-closed HoltraChem Manufacturing Co. plant in Orrington.
The results prompted the Maine Department of Marine Resources this week to close the 7 square miles at the mouth of Penobscot to lobster and crab fishing starting Saturday for at least two years as other tests are conducted.
Whipple said that part of Maine’s slow reaction might have come from court proceedings, which prevented researchers from publishing their results or presenting their research without court permission.
He said that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife closed areas to duck hunting because of the mercury contamination documented by the study a year ago.