The last straws

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Boat show attendees in Cleveland can forget about plastic straws. Meanwhile, we have even more reason to push harder than ever for congressional passage of the Modern Fish Act.

First, it’s say goodbye to plastic straws at the Cleveland Boat Show in the I-X Center this January.

“We have insisted the I-X Center abolish the use of plastic straws and other plastics, like expanded polystyrene, in their food services during our show,” said Michelle Burke, president of the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association. “And we’ve encouraged them to make it an I-X policy for all events there. They are been very understanding of the issue.”

Acknowledging that it’s more symbolic than reality that this single action will save our lakes and oceans, it is intended to send a message that boating and boaters care about the threat that plastics pose to our waterways, environment and health. It’s reported that 8 million tons of discarded plastics flow into our oceans each year. We use 500,000 plastic straws a day. And remember, all streams and rivers, including all the Great Lakes, eventually flow into an ocean.

America once sent much of its plastic refuse to China for recycling. China stopped accepting it more than a year ago (nothing to do with President Trump’s trade war). Now what doesn’t hit our waterways is piling up. Our recycling programs can’t handle it. Plastics, like the straws in our lakes and seas, break down into microplastics. Fish ingest the microplastics. We eat the fish. Think about that when you’re enjoying that fresh fish for dinner.

So kudos to the Cleveland Boat Show for taking an action that can make a positive impact. (Notably, the “Save Our Seas Act” in Congress deserves support for passage).

Modern Fish Act

Speaking of impacting a problem, I’m not one who angers easily, but the latest information about the environmental group Mighty Earth attacking Yamaha and, therefore, all of us who support the Modern Fish Act has me more than hot. (You must read yesterday’s lead story in Trade Only Today.)

I am an environmentalist, too, but don’t group me with the wingnuts in that organization who have wound up in the pocket of commercial fishing interests. For them to launch a campaign against the Modern Fish Act and Yamaha illustrates how they don’t “get it.” To counteract Mighty Earth’s misinformation, it’s now incumbent upon every one of us in the marine industry to take action by calling or emailing our senators and our representatives urging them to pass the Modern Fish Act.

In fact, there are three other favorable pieces of legislation that have also cleared all committees with bipartisan support and are awaiting floor action in the House and Senate. They should be passed before the lame-duck session ends this week. So join me (and ask your dealership employees) and take action today.

Salute to the Coast Guard

I want to give a tip of the cap to an alert Coast Guard team who boarded the Greek-managed 750-foot oil tanker Nave Cielo after it had left New Orleans. A tanker crewmember had given Coast Guard officers a thumb drive containing two videos that showed a high-volume discharge waste oil from the ship.

A comprehensive inspection revealed that an approximately 10-minute oil discharge occurred on Nov. 2, 2017. The ship’s crew surrendered the vessel’s required Oil Record Book, which did not record the discharge (there’s a surprise).

A U.S. district court ordered the ship’s owners, Navimax Corp., to pay a $2 million fine for violating the “Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships,” as well as a charge of obstructing a Coast Guard investigation because the ship’s captain and chief engineer made false statements. Further, the court placed the company on probation for four years, which means all Navimax ships will be monitored.

I believe the fine should have been higher, but it sends a clear message that we care about our oceans, and actions such as this are a crime we will act upon.

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