FishOn: Of summer, smuggling and bogus SOS calls

A North Atlantic right whale feeds on the surface of Cape Cod Bay off the coast of Plymouth. Last week, four adult North Atlantic right whales were found dead in Canadian waters within a 48-hour span.

So, did you have a good time at Fiesta? Did you behave (or at least have a bail bondsman on speed dial)? Eat sensibly? Drink moderately? Did you exit as you entered, coat shiny and nose wet? Well, bully for you.

We here at FishOn, on the other hand, consumed food and drink as if we'd just been rescued after three weeks in a crumbling mine shaft. We have, it has been pointed out more than once, the collective willpower of a gnat.

Still, it was nice to have summer finally come visit and even nicer to see the city alive and pulsating. Yes, our summer visitors can be a chore. But they also are a validation of how special summertime is here on the rocky shores of Cape Ann. Really, where else would you rather live?

And now summer will kick into high gear. Ball games. Cookouts. Festivals. Concerts. Trips on the boat or out to the beach. And before you know it, the annual Gloucester Schooner Festival will bring down the curtain on the summer of 2019 and we'll all be wondering where the heck it went.

So, enjoy it. Leave work early and go for a swim. Go grab some $1 happy-hour oysters. Play some Wiffle ball. Eat seafood. Listen to the Sox on the radio. Play some golf. Grill some burgers. Smoke some BBQ. Learn to make the perfect lobster roll. Ignore anyone who tries to drag you up the line.

Then repeat.

It's the only way to roll.

Maybe they should smuggle butter, too

The Dominican Republic sure has been in the news lately and for all the wrong reasons.

You may have read about the tourists who have been dropping like Red Sox relievers. And of course, there was the surreal Big Papi shooting that Dominican authorities claim is nothing more than a case of mistaken identity despite the fact that David Ortiz is arguably the most popular and recognizable person on the island.

And now this: Wanton smuggling of — wait for it — garlic.

According to the FreshPlaza website, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Vigilant set its own seizure record when it intercepted a speed boat carrying a cargo of 7,800 pounds of black market garlic — valued at $30,000 — into the DR from Haiti.

Garlic smuggling apparently is a real problem throughout the world. Who knew? We just go to Market Basket.

"Garlic smuggling is a serious problem in Southeast Asia, Europe and many other regions as Chinese exporters overwhelm local suppliers," stated the story on the website. "China produces an estimated 80 percent of the world's garlic supply, and it easily out-competes other nations' farmers on price per kilo and sheer volume."

Here we are worrying about lobster tariffs imposed by the Chinese. Maybe we should be worrying about them monopolizing the global garlic market like Mortimer and Randolph Duke and orange juice in the film "Trading Places." 

Dangerous waters

The news for the already-imperiled North Atlantic right whales just keeps getting worse, though that hardly seems possible.

Last week, four adult North Atlantic right whales were found dead in Canadian waters within a 48-hour span, to bring the total of 2019 right whale mortalities to six in just the opening month of summer. Since 2017, 18 North Atlantic right whales have died in Canadian waters — an extraordinary number when you consider that none of the deaths occurred in 2018.

The necropsy on the first dead whale of 2019 was inconclusive, but researchers said the necropsy on the second dead whale determined it died from a ship strike.

The most recent deaths ravage an already depleted stock. Going into the summer, researchers estimated the North Atlantic right whale stock had dipped to 411 globally.

And there's a whole lot of summer to go.

Moron alert

Someone down in North Carolina is flirting with a whole mess of trouble and the Coast Guard is anxious to punch his or her ticket for making several hoax distress calls in the area of Pamlico Sound and Oregon Inlet.

According to the Coast Guard, the same person appears to have made several of the calls. It's even posted the audio of one of the calls up online in the hope that members of the public might recognize the voice. One version has the profanity edited out. Another retains it.

The calls were made on the emergency marine radio channel 16.

"The caller has stated they were 'going down' and regularly broadcasts 'mayday' or 'help' along with a string of other calls, including profanity," the Coast Guard said. "Penalties for making a false distress call can include up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines, plus the cost incurred by the search."

And those searches aren't cheap. The HC-130 Hercules airplane costs about $15,000 an hour to operate. The MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter goes for about $10,000 per hour and the rescue boats top out at about $5,000 per hour. 

As always, no fish were harmed in the making of this column. 

Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT.

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