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March 2002 Vol. 28, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the March, 2002 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Another danger of dynamite fishing: Two German divers, a gynecologist and his 25-year- old son, were exploring a cave last year in Vrula Bay in the Adriatic Sea. A Croatian man was fishing nearby, not with line, but with leftover land mines. One of his exploding mines killed both divers, The fisherman, Dragutin Jakovinovic pleaded guilty to causing the deaths. He told a court, “ Yes, I feel guilty. I was illegally fishing with explosives close to the bridge that connects the island of Pag with the coast, but I did not realize the divers were so close. Now, I feel horrible, like I would rather be dead instead of the German divers.”

Got a winning photo?: If you have a prized image taken in a coral park, a place with good, local protection, then your shot may be featured in the Coral Reef Alliance ’s 2003 calendar, the most widely distributed undersea calendar anywhere. For details on submitting your photo call 510 848-0110 or visit Deadline is April 1.

Swedish Meatball: After a 6 foot groper (what the Aussies call a grouper) wrapped his mouth around a diver’s head, injuring him, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority considered relocating the fish from his home on the wreck of the Yongala. The Queensland groper, estimated to be 80 years old and nicknamed VW, attacked the Swedish tourist on New Year’s Eve. The groper later menaced another diver, lunging at him. Gropers are usually territorial but nonaggressive to humans but the park authority thought he may be sick or injured. While the enormous fish could be dangerous to diver, diver’s complaints led to the Commission to let VW stay, at least until further notice. Two years ago, a fish-processing company in Cairns found the head of a commercial fisherman in a giant cod. The man fell from a trawler 95km northeast of Townsville, and his crewmates later caught the fish that had swallowed his remains.

Midway shuts down: The unique deep diving operation and all tourist operations on Midway Island in the Pacific have closed. A federal-private pact to maintain Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, has broken down, revealing that the booming notion of financing environmental protection with tourism proceeds is no simple solution. In a 1996 agreement, the Navy traded “guns for gooney birds,” turning the Navy base over to Fish and Wildlife’s Pacific Region, based in Portland. But the agency had no money to run the airstrip and buildings, let alone host visitors. So it signed up Midway Phoenix Corp. of Cartersville, GA., to do so, at no cost to the government. By attracting up to a hundred travelers a week who would pay to dive, birdwatch, visit historic sites, fish, snorkel and help biologists, Midway Phoenix figured it could pay for the upkeep. However, few people wanted to shell out $600 for the three- hour flight from Honolulu, plus $100 per day to stay in a barracks-turned-hotel. Occupancy ran at less than half of capacity. REEF has a diving trip planned in August and has been told by the government that it hopes diving will be operable by then, but it seems like a long shot.

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