Archive for the tag 'fishing'

Photo by Bruce Brodinsky

Photo by Bruce Brodinsky

Steeplechase Pier, located off the boardwalk at Coney Island, reopened this week, nearly a year after sustaining significant damage following Superstorm Sandy. Amusing the Zillion reported earlier this week that repairs on the pier were almost completed and will open sometime this month.

Now, reader Bruce Brodinsky has tipped us off that the pier is fully open, with shiny new benches, railings, lighting and more. It looks great!

As we reported on Sheepshead Bites, the 1,000-foot-pier was originally set to open in July, but continuing construction delayed the reopening. The construction, which has cost an estimated $19.4 million, had suffered setbacks when a barge and crane used in the repairs sank in April.

The new pier is also set to offer an interesting new see-through observation deck which will allow pedestrians to stare down at the water under their feet.



When boats in Southern Brooklyn get smashed, a certain captain comes to the rescue. The captain in question is Jack Schachner, and he and his lucrative White Cap Marine and Salvage business is the subject of a fascinating report by the New York Times report.

Captain Jack’s activities mainly revolves around the business of salvaging wrecked boats in the waters off Southern Brooklyn, a difficult and dangerous job as the Times details:

Capt. Jack Schachner strained his eyes as the waves crashed over the rail of his towboat. It was a moonless night in Jamaica Bay and a storm had pitched the black water, making the conditions even more dangerous than usual as he sped along a rocky stretch of shoreline in pursuit of his bounty.

And suddenly there it was, illuminated by the flashing orange lights from his boat: a 53-foot fishing vessel listing perilously and quickly taking water from a large hole torn across its hull. The accident had occurred in the dark, prompting a Fire Department rescue of four passengers thrown into the water and leaving the boat dangerously situated on a rock jetty.

Captain Schachner’s job was to tow the boat somewhere safer, where it could be left until he could orchestrate its removal. For an entire night, he worked alone, his boat groaning angrily as the waves slammed it against the damaged vessel. Despite the peril, the thought of leaving never surfaced in his mind, he said. His reward for this salvage, he estimated, would be at least $30,000.

Schachner, who runs the business with his brother, Captain Bernie Schachner, and their first mate Frank Donnelly, sees a lot of action in the summer months when people hit the waters on jet skis, motorboats and yachts, often times getting into dangerous situations. Listening to his radio for any calls of distress, Schachner described just when to head out for a rescue.

“I can tell when there’s a sense of distress, of panic in someone’s voice, even from sleep, and when I get that sense, I go,” Schachner told the Times.

The Times explained how Schachner brings down big bucks for his actions:

He needs the radios because speed is essential in his business. Maritime salvage laws, created more than a century ago to give mariners incentive to assist a vessel in peril, state that the rescuer is entitled to a salvage reward. The reward, typically paid by insurance companies, is based on a percentage of the vessel’s value and cargo, and on the dangers faced during the salvage. The greater the danger, the higher the reward.

For the brothers, two Navy veterans with a love of adventure and “saltwater running through our veins,” salvaging seemed a natural calling, Jack Schachner said.

The report, which you can read in full by clicking here, is a fascinating portrait of the adventurous stories and humorous anecdotes that Schachner and his crew have faced over the years working as a salvage company. Check it out.


Horseshoe Crabs

Illegal poachers are flaunting fishing laws and regulations at increasing rates as the manpower to police the laws have been slashed. The New York Times is reporting that overlapping state and federal regulations have also caused many cases against poachers to be dismissed at court as well.

Last Memorial Day, we reported on a late night NYPD helicopter chase that targeted poachers illegally harvesting horseshoe crabs off  in Jamaica Bay. The crabs are prized by the pharmaceutical industry for a component in their blood, but most poaching occurs by commercial fisherman who use the crabs as bait and by some ethnic groups that eat them. The Times also indicated that laws designed to protect the horseshoe crab population are creating as many problems as they solve:

Moratoriums on horseshoe crab fishing in New Jersey have driven up their price, from about one dollar per crab five years ago to about five today. The very rules meant to protect the crabs, some fishermen say, have made them a more desirable catch.

Another problem endangering the horseshoe crabs are cuts brought about by the federal sequestration in Washington DC. The cuts to the US Park Police, who patrol the bay, have made it easier for illegal poachers to flourish.

“We’re not catching 50 percent of the people,” Captain Francisco Lopez told the Times. “We just don’t have the manpower.”

The lack of manpower has led to a huge increase in the illegal poaching world not just in horseshoe crabs, but with other protected fish species. A Sheepshead Bay fisherman who wished to remain anonymous told the Times that a nefarious element has become more common:

“It’s a whole underground world,” said a fisherman standing outside Stella Maris Bait and Tackle in Sheepshead Bay one day recently. He declined to give his name for fear of retribution from his peers. “You go to any market, and there’s people selling fish, anytime, that’s illegal.”

“Ever see those mob movies?” he added, as whelk, also called scungilli, were unloaded nearby. “People come out of the woodwork that you’ve never seen, envelopes full of stuff, this, that, money.”

With less federal and state authorities policing the waters, the hopes of catching poachers increasingly falls on the shoulders of concerned citizens and law abiding fishermen, who also have much to lose if suspected of cooperating with police. The Times explained the ordeal facing John McMurray, a local conservationist who dared rat on poachers:

After he reported a man he suspected of poaching to state enforcement officers, John McMurray said that his charter boat, One More Cast, was vandalized and untied from its moorings in Somerville Basin on the Rockaway Peninsula; it ended up on the rocks.

Shortly after, Mr. McMurray, a conservationist who sits on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s striped bass advisory panel, said he arrived to find One More Cast at the bottom of the marina. Though he does not have proof, Mr. McMurray suspects that what befell his boat was retribution. “It certainly made me think twice about ratting out a guy at my marina again.”

Other obstacles facing law enforcement are speedier boats that allow poachers to simply outrun the police; when spotted they drop their weighted burlap bags, sinking any evidence if they are caught. Cases against illegal poachers are also notoriously difficult to prosecute due to technicalities concerning the definition of fish and the overlapping state and federal rules which lead to dismissals.

Despite the increased levels of poaching and relative difficulty in prosecuting those who are caught, many fishermen lament the laws that they say are driving them out of business for good. John Arena, a fisherman once arrested with 46 striped bass, declared that the Jamaica Bay fisherman was an “endangered species.”

I’m just going to assume that iMovie isn’t some cheap Apple editing software that allows anyone with with too much time on their hands and a smartphone to construct fake movie trailers to impress their friends.

That being said, I cannot wait to see the epic feature length movie Jamaica Bay explode in theaters this summer. I’m guessing that Mark Zimmerman is the “one man who defied the seas and dared to fish!”

I wonder who is going to play his wife, Sandra Bullock? Emma Stone? Maybe Meryl Streep is the only actress capable of capturing the dread of a fisherman’s wife who just wants to see her husband return safely from another dangerous dance with the sea…

Well I don’t care who they get because, this summer, I will be in first in line to see the thrill ride that is Jamaica Bay! Who’s with me?

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Local mariners have something to be happy about this New Year: the Department of Environmental Protection reversed course on plans to destroy a 78-year-old navigational aid between Manhattan Beach and Breezy Point that mariners say makes them safer and shows them the way home when gizmos can’t.

According to documents released under a Freedom of Information Law request filed by Sheepshead Bites, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection decided to leave a wastewater diffuser pipe that locals affectionately refer to as the “roundhouse” after sailors and other mariners objected to its removal.

“Comments received questioned whether it would be more advantageous to leave the existing outlet chamber in place,” DEP reps wrote to partnering agencies in a September 2012 letter. “If kept, it could serve as an underwater fish habitat and provide opportunity for sea birds to perch.”

It wasn’t just the environmentalists that the DEP sought to please; the agency determined the now defunct roundhouse served a crucial purpose for navigation, and as a marker for underwater infrastructure that could damage vessels.

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Ah, the simple pleasure of fishing. It’s a peaceful hobby that requires skill and patience. Not everyone is blessed with the skills needed to fish, and even more people aren’t blessed with the time… or the boat for that matter. Lucky for us, these boys in the video above hopped in their party boat, left Sheepshead Bay, set up a time-lapse camera and fished their way to internet fishing glory. Check it out.

According to a release by the New York Times, the city environmental officials lifted an advisory on recreational water activity issued last month after Superstorm Sandy. The environmental advisory applied to the East River, Hudson River, New York Harbor, Jamaica Bay and the Kill Van Krull.

The advisory was put into effect after power outages caused wastewater treatment plants and pumping stations to discharge untreated wastewater in New York City waterways.

The recreational advisory urged against activities such as swimming, canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing or any other water activity that would entail possible direct contact with the water.

In related news, the Gateway National Recreational Area announced that it reopened both the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and Great Kills Park, however Floyd Bennett Field is still closed.

None of those advisories stopped the local Brighton Beach resident featured above from testing out the cold waters of Brighton Beach by going for a risky swim six days before the advisory was lifted.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has issued the following advisory:

Due to flooding and power related shutdowns caused by Hurricane Sandy, wastewater treatment plants and pumping stations have discharged untreated wastewater into New York City waterways. The New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene advises that direct contact with the Hudson River, East River, New York Harbor, Jamaica Bay and the Kill Van Kull for recreational activities such as swimming, canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing or any other water activity that would entail possible direct contact with the water should be avoided until further notice.

The Department of Environmental Protection is responding to the impacts caused by Hurricane Sandy on its waste water treatment facilities and will monitor water quality conditions through testing to verify when these water bodies are safe for recreational uses.

Source: Geoffrey Croft via

The following is a press release issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation:

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and state Department of Health have lifted the boating advisory in Paerdegat Basin in Brooklyn that was in place since the oil spill that led to discharges into the Basin while National Grid was plugging a decommissioned underground gas pipeline.

The agencies continue to advise the public to avoid eating any fish or crabs from Paerdegat Basin in Brooklyn and 200 yards from the mouth of Paerdegat Basin in a small portion of Jamaica Bay as a precaution until further notice. The public is also reminded that all New York City waters are closed to shellfishing (harvest of clams, mussels, oysters or scallops).

An environmental investigation is underway to determine if there is residual contamination in the Basin. To date, National Grid has performed preliminary testing of the Basin’s surface water, and sampling data indicates there are no PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in the water. DEC will verify the data in the coming weeks.

As part of the clean-up efforts, National Grid conducted an initial cleaning of boats impacted by the spill. DEC is currently evaluating the results of that cleaning to determine what further actions are needed to assure the vessels meet criteria for decontamination. National Grid also flushed the storm sewer line, cleaned the street and removed spilled condensate from the manhole.

National Grid will submit a draft workplan next week to DEC outlining a schedule for sampling basin sediments, biota and upland soil. Once DEC approves the plan, the company will be responsible for collecting and analyzing necessary samples. The results of the sampling performed under the workplan will determine whether any additional remediation is required. A timeline will be included in the workplan.

DEC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are currently reviewing a plan by National Grid to clean out the remainder of the pipe that was not filled with concrete when the incident occurred.

Source: Geoffrey Croft via

When we first broke the story about the Paerdegat Basin oil spill, in which an estimated 800 to 1,400 gallons of natural gas condensate, compressor oil and turbine oil poured into the waters near Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, info was scarce. Representatives of the U.S. Coast Guard and Department of Environmental Conservation told us the spill had happened while an old pipe was being capped, but how the oil got into the water remained unclear. The company responsible for the spill, National Grid, did not respond to requests for comment.

National Grid has now weighed in, issuing a press release late last week that indicated the spill actually happened on land. Firefighters responding to complaints of a smell of natural gas in the neighborhood, created by the release of mercaptan, an additive that gives the gas its odor, arrived at the scene and flushed the oil and residue from the ground and into storm drains, which flowed into Paerdegat Basin.

Keep reading and see how what National Grid had to say.

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