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July 2013    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 39, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Flotsam & Jetsam

from the July, 2013 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Online Sales of Nurse Sharks are Shut Down. The US Attorney's Office in Miami charged Dean Trinh of Milpitas, CA, last month with buying and selling juvenile nurse sharks illegally trapped in the Florida Keys. Authorities say Florida Keys resident Allan Wagner, who died before the case reached court, harvested nurse shark pups from lobster traps he placed in Florida waters in 2009, then shipped them to California by commercial air for further sale by Trinh, who operated a business known as Aquatop USA in California and reportedly advertised the sale of nurse sharks on websites like eBay and Craigslist. Prosecutors believe the men sold and transferred approximately 74 sharks. Trinh, 43, faces 30 years in prison if convicted. It's not determined yet whether he'll face trial in California or Florida.

It's Chapter 7 for Diving Concepts. The drysuit maker in Santa Barbara, CA, had a reputation of service problems with its dealers and customers, so it was not a total surprise that the company filed for bankruptcy in April. After hearing a rising crescendo of complaints about the company not replying to calls or e-mails about drysuits sent in for repairs, the John McKenzie of the dive news website ScubaGadget found court records showing that Diving Concepts filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, meaning it intends to liquidate. Its assets are listed in the range of $100,000 to $500,000, while its liabilities are between $1 million and $10 million. Diving Concepts' court-appointed trustee is Jeremy W. Faith (his phone number is 818- 705-2777). For customers and dealers who have suits in for repair, Faith says that if they contact him and have "ironclad proof of ownership," they should be able to get their drysuit returned. All other creditors should hire a lawyer.

Learn How to Microdive. Now you can get certified to dive all the way down to 10 feet! But only 10 feet. An English man named Rob Hart has created a "Microdive" certification course that's being taught at a few U.K. dive stores at a cost of $230. "Until now, only people with the time, money and the commitment to study for weeks to qualify to dive to 60 feet could experience the wonders that lie below the surface of our oceans," said Hart. "By removing the obstacles of time and cost, it is now possible for anyone to dive if they want to." He says the government-approved course qualifies students to Microdive independently to 10 feet anywhere in the world. Truth is, Hart's course is mainly directed to people who want to scrub barnacles off their boats, which hasn't got much to do with experiencing "the wonders that lie below the surface." And I'm shocked -- as I'm sure other American divers are -- that PADI didn't think this up long ago.

Will Florida's New Lionfish Rules Help? At last, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) have seen the light and lifted restrictions on how many lionfish people can catch or kill. FWC Spokeswoman Amanda Nalley told news station WZVN in Fort Meyers, "What we did was allow folks to target them without needing a recreational fish license when using any spearing device or net geared toward lionfish." The rules will also allow anglers and divers to take as many of the invasive fish as they can." Prior to the change, anglers and divers had a 100-pound limit. That doesn't mean anything goes for spearfishers. "The rules do not change where you can spearfish currently," says Nalley. "All normal spearfishing rules remain in place [in Florida counties]."After a decade of the lionfish's lethal march down the Atlantic and into the Caribbean, we're wondering why it took the FWC so long to change its tune. The new rules are good news -- but still, it's a Band-Aid on a problem that may be too big for any government agency to ever control.

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