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Southeast News and Views for April 2012

TRINITY YACHTS IN GULFPORT, MS, LAUNCHES 164-FOOT TSUMAT

Tsumat is the stuff dreams are made of. At least for her owner, a repeat Trinity customer whose family has enjoyed yachting for many years. From her layout, which includes six staterooms and a tender garage, Tsumat is intended to provide every amenity for her active owner family and their guests. With a draft of less than eight feet, Tsumat maneuvers easily in shallow-water destinations. She accommodates twelve owners and guests plus eleven crew.

MOORE HAVEN LOCK TO CLOSE TEMPORARILY IN MAY

Jacksonville, FL. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has postponed the start date for installation of the Manatee Protection System (MPS) at the Moore Haven Lock on the Okeechobee Waterway. The lock is now set for closure from May 14 – July 9, 2012. The adjustment comes after local business owners, recreational boaters and residents expressed concerns about closing the locks earlier in the spring due to heavy usage of the facilities.

“After hearing the economic and recreational concerns, the Corps has adjusted the scheduled lock closure to reduce the impact to the local communities,” said Lt. Col. Michael Kinard, deputy district commander. “This timeframe will allow the lock to remain open further into the boating season, while allowing us to complete the installation at the beginning of the hurricane season when the risk is low.”

Installation of the MPS is part of the Manatee Pass Gates project. The primary goal of the project is to safeguard Florida’s endangered manatees from serious injury or death at water control structures and navigation locks by modifying these structures with a MPS. Using a set of acoustic transmitters and receivers, the MPS detects the West Indian manatee and prevents the gates from closing and harming the protected animal.

GUY HARVERY SCHOLARSHIPS AWARDED

A record five graduate students at universities in Florida have been awarded $5,000 scholarships as winners of the Guy Harvey Scholarship Award. The winners are Felipe Carvalho and Sarah Stephens, University of Florida; M. Laura Habegger, University of South Florida; Sean Bignami, University of Miami; and Kier Smith, Florida Atlantic University.

The scholarship, established in 2010 through a partnership between Florida Sea Grant and the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, recognizes students at Florida universities whose research focuses on novel strategies for improving sustainable management of large marine fish and sharks.

“Clearly the innovative work proposed by these students will have major impacts,” says Florida Sea Grant director Karl Havens.

The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation is an organization of philanthropists, conservationists, scientists and educators that emphasizes sensible strategies for promoting ocean conservation and the development of the next generation of marine scientists.

BOSTON WHALER JOINS SEA TOW’S ‘SEA CARE’ PROGRAM

Edgewater, FL. Boston Whaler and Sea Tow announced in February a new partnership that features Boston Whaler’s participation in Sea Tow’s popular Sea Care program. As part of the agreement, Boston Whaler will extend a complimentary 95-day Sea Tow membership to all new Boston Whaler boat owners, while existing owners are eligible for 14 months of Sea Tow membership for the price of 12.

“Boston Whaler is a storied boat brand, and Sea Tow is the top name in boater assistance,” said Jeff Vaughn, Boston Whaler’s vice president of sales, marketing and customer service. “Participation in the program allows Boston Whaler to provide even more confidence and peace of mind to its customers.”

P1 SUPERSTOCK USA ANNOUNCES 2012 RACE SCHEDULE

Greenville, NC. The one-design P1 SuperStock USA Championship is set with five events on its 2012 race schedule. For the second consecutive year, P1 SuperStock USA teams will race in Detroit, MI and Morehead City, NC with the addition of three new venues: St. Cloud, FL, Biloxi, MS and Pittsburgh, PA.

“We were approached by a huge number of venues who are interested in bringing P1 SuperStock USA to their city,” said Martin Sanborn, P1 Director of North American Operations. “The amount of interest this series has generated throughout the U.S. is very encouraging and will be instrumental in bringing the Championship to a regional level by 2013.” The season starts on March 30 in St. Cloud, FL at the “Spring Fling” presented by the Rotary Club of St. Cloud (ed. note: see story this issue), with the second event scheduled for April 26-29 in Biloxi, MS for “Smokin’ the Sound.” All at Sea SOUTHEAST will have further updates as the season progresses.

FCC ACKNOWLEDGES GPS INTERFERENCE ISSUES WITH LIGHTSQUARED PLAN

Alexandria, VA. Recreational boaters who rely on global positioning devices to keep them safely on course can breathe a sigh of relief since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced plans in February to revoke conditional approval of a proposed cellular telephone network that could interfere with GPS signals.

“This is a significant development for all GPS users,” said BoatUS President Margaret Podlich.” Last summer, BoatUS mounted a campaign to slow down the federal approval process until adequate testing could be done. BoatUS’ “Don’t Mess With GPS” campaign delivered over 18,000 comments to the FCC from concerned boaters all across the country.

LightSquared had originally asked the FCC for permission to build 40,000 cell phone ground stations across the country that would expand broadband cellular telephone service. In a February letter to the FCC, the National Telecommunication and Information Administration said tests indicate that the network would “…cause harmful interference to the majority of general navigation GPS receivers tested.”

The FCC hosted a 15-day comment period ending March 1 to solicit feedback on their plans to revoke LightSquared’s conditional permit. Look for more news on the topic in upcoming issues as we follow the developing story.

GALVESTON BAY UPGRADES OYSTER RESTORATION PROJECT

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department recently enhanced one of its oyster restoration projects with the addition of 59 concrete artificial reef domes donated by Galveston Bay Foundation.

The artificial reef domes were placed over a one-acre patch in East Galveston Bay. Care was taken to ensure that water depth would be maintained for small craft navigation. The domes will be used to attract fish and oyster larvae and will facilitate studies on oyster density and fish utilization.

The department’s artificial reef program has enjoyed success placing large reef domes in the Gulf over the past 15 years. Artificial Reef Program Director Dale Shively notes that there was a marked increase in the number of fish after the placement of the reef domes. Though smaller than the large artificial reef structures in the Gulf, the reef domes in Galveston Bay may also attract large game fish.

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