Iceland’s fishing leaders were reported this week to be keeping a close watch on current debate turmoil within European Union states over how its fishing industry should be managed over the next few years.
Iceland has applied for EU membership – a move strongly opposed by the country’s fishing vessel owners – and it is almost certain that her rich fishing stocks will become a key factor in negotiations.
In the meantime a new Common Fisheries Policy is likely to emerge before 2012 and the signs are that the EU will decide that the current system of quantity quotas which are allocated to the member states for each species will be scrapped after years of controversy and criticism by fishermen.
Instead fishery management is likely to be replaced by the allocation of fishing days for individual vessels which should put an end to the hated practice of throwing good fish back into the sea simply because the quotas have been reached.
But Morgunbladid, Iceland’s main daily newspaper, said there are serious fears in the industry that this proposal could put Iceland at a serious disadvantage because it leads to a very loose control over the actual qualities of fish taken out of the sea.
Adolf Gudmundsson, Chairman of Iceland´s National Federation of Fishing Operators, told the paper that his organisation was not fond of fisheries management based on fishing days. “This is was a method initially used by Iceland but soon found to be inadequate and it was subsequently abandoned,” he added.
In Russia, the fifty man crew for the first Yasen (Graney) class SSGN (nuclear powered cruise missile sub) recently arrived at the Sevmash shipyards where their boat is being built. The crew was put together four years ago, and has been training ever since. The crew will continue training, increasingly on the first boat of the class (the Severodvinsk), which will be launched in a few months and enter service within two years.
Last July, construction began on a second Yasen class SSGN. Russia plans to complete six boats of this class within the next six years. Construction of the first Yasen class boat, the Severodvinsk, began in 1993, but lack of money led to numerous delays. Originally, the Severodvinsk was to enter service in 1998. Work on the Severodvinsk was resumed six years ago. If work is not interrupted, the second Yasen class boat should be delivered in less than six years.
The 9,500 ton Yasens carry 24 cruise missiles, as well as eight 25.6 inch torpedo tubes. Some of the cruise missiles can have a range of over 3,000 kilometers, while others are designed as “aircraft carrier killers.” The larger torpedo tubes also make it possible to launch missiles from them, as well as larger and more powerful torpedoes. The ship is highly automated, which is why there is a crew less than half of the 134 submariners needed to run the new United States Virginia class boats. The Yasen design is based on the earlier Akula and Alfa class SSNs. Russia had originally planned to build 30 Yasens.
The Royal Navy has agreed to sacrifice one of its two new aircraft carriers to save about £8.2 billion from the defence budget.
The admirals, who have battled for a decade to secure the two new 65,000-ton carriers, have been forced to back down because of the soaring cost of the American-produced Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft due to fly off them.
The move is a blow to the navy’s prestige and has come on the heels of Gordon Brown’s announcement last month that he was axing one of the navy’s four Trident nuclear deterrent submarines.
It is too late for the navy to renege on contracts to build the two carriers, the Queen Elizabeth, due to go into service in 2016, and the Prince of Wales, due to follow in 2018. Although the second carrier will be built, it will be used as an amphibious commando ship, with only helicopters on board instead of JSF aircraft.
The move will leave the navy without a carrier when the Queen Elizabeth goes into refit, leaving open the possibility that it might have to borrow one from the French navy. In a meeting with Brown last year, Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, had suggested that refits of French and British aircraft carriers should be co-ordinated.
The decision to have only one new aircraft carrier will cut the number of JSFs to be flown by RAF squadrons from 138 to about 50, saving £7.6 billion. At current prices, the aircraft will cost close to £90m each, but this could rise to more than £100m.
Using the Prince of Wales as a commando ship will save a further £600m, the amount that would have been needed to replace the amphibious landing ship Ocean, which is due to go out of service in 2018.
A senior Royal Navy officer said: “We always knew that the real cost of the carrier project is the JSF fleet to go on them. It would cost us at least £12 billion if we bought all the aircraft we originally asked for. We are waking up to the fact that all those planes are unaffordable. More than half of the £5 billion contracts to build the two new carriers have been contracted, so it is too late to get out of building the ships. This way at least we are covered when Ocean goes out of service.”
Last Thursday (October 22, 2009), Marport’s Underwater Robotics group successfully demonstrated the unique manoeuvring capabilities of the SQX-500 Unmanned Underwater Vehicle in the NRC-IOT test tank.
The hydro-dynamically stable UUV is designed for reliable performance and low life-cycle cost. The dual-pod design enables exceptional stability. Its rudders can rotate 360° and its propulsion system utilizes vector thrusters. As such, the vehicle can hover or transit laterally, vertically, forward, and reverse, enabling stealthy manoeuvres. Patents have already been filed on the unique propulsion and control system.
The first SQX-500 has been sold to an international offshore survey company for seabed survey applications. Marport is currently investigating a variety of scientific research and military applications for the vehicle.
The SQX-class of vehicles are being co-developed by Marport Canada, the NRC – Institute for Ocean Technology and Memorial University.
The Navy’s second littoral combat ship, the Independence, finished its builder’s trials last week. The aluminum trimaran hit a top speed of 45 knots and kept a sustained speed of 44 knots during its full power run in the Gulf of Mexico, shipbuilder General Dynamics said in an announcement. It kept a high speed and stability despite eight-foot waves and 25-knot winds.
“Independence exceeded our expectations in terms of maneuverability, stability, handling and speed,” said Jeff Geiger, president of the GD-owned Bath Iron Works, in the company’s announcement.
Now that the Independence has finished its builder’s trials, Navy inspectors will come aboard later this year for acceptance trials before the ship is finally delivered. Rear Adm. Bill Landay, the Navy’s program executive officer for ships, has said the latest schedule calls for the Independence to be delivered before the end of 2009 and be commissioned sometime early next year.
Landay told Navy Times on Oct. 6 that engineers had to stop and start Independence’s builder’s trials since July to address early problems with the ship and to finish construction in some areas. The ship’s jet drive room flooded, and it had vibration and temperature problems with its propulsion systems, Landay said.
The Independence is the second of two ships the Navy is considering for its planned fleet of 55 littoral combat ships, along with the Lockheed Martin-built Freedom, commissioned last November. The ships were built to swap inter-changeable equipment for three missions: mine countermeasures, surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare. Navy officials will decide next spring which version of LCS they will put into full-scale production.
That decision will take place during or after the Freedom’s trial deployment, scheduled for early 2010, in which the ship will take a test mission to South America and the Pacific with its surface warfare mission module. But the down-select will take place before the Independence can do its own trial deployment, although Navy officials say they don’t need to see its performance on a test mission to decide which LCS they’ll buy.
Each LCS was initially pitched to Congress for a cost of about $220 million, but according to the Navy’s latest budget figures, the Freedom has cost $637 million and the Independence has cost $704 million. The Navy has awarded contracts for a second Freedom-class ship – the Fort Worth – and a second Independence – the Coronado – but has not disclosed the value of the contracts.
Navy officials claim the ongoing competition between GD and Lockheed mean they can’t release the ships’ costs, although Landay said he hopes the Navy will reveal those costs soon.
The combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the second warmest September on record, according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Based on records going back to 1880, the monthly NCDC analysis is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides. NCDC scientists also reported that the average land surface temperature for September was the second warmest on record, behind 2005.
The combined global land and ocean surface temperature was 1.12° F above the 20th century average of 59.0° F. Separately the global land surface temperature was 1.75°F above the 20th century average of 53.6°F.
Warmer-than-average temperatures engulfed most of the world’s land areas during the month. The greatest warmth occurred across Canada and the northern and western contiguous United States. Warmer-than-normal conditions also prevailed across Europe, most of Asia and Australia.
The worldwide ocean temperature tied with 2004 as the fifth warmest September on record, 0.90°F above the 20th century average of 61.1°F. The near-Antarctic southern ocean and the Gulf of Alaska featured notable cooler-than-average temperatures.
Arctic sea ice covered an average 2.1 million square miles in September – the third lowest for any September since records began in 1979. The coverage was 23.8 percent below the 1979-2000 average, and the 13th consecutive September with below-average Arctic sea ice extent.
Two Visby-class corvettes, HMS Helsingborg and HMS Härnösand, have been modified to adapt them better to the demands of international missions. Their capabilities have been further refined within the framework of Project Visby IP.
The ability to deploy naval vessels on international missions is important to the Swedish Armed Forces, which have been tasked with several demanding international assignments in recent years. The Armed Forces are likely to be confronted by just as many (and as tough) challenges in coming years.
The entire project has been completed in just 30 weeks, from signing the contract to delivery of the vessels. The assignment has involved technical modifications, design work, equipment procurement, systems security, production, commissioning and verification.
Marport C-Tech supplied the Hull Mounted Sonars and Variable Depth Sonars used on the Visby –class corvettes.
With more than 80 percent of all the seafood in the United States produced overseas, most of the seafood heading to North America passes through the hands of the 25 companies featured in the new IntraFish Industry Report, ‘The Top 25 Seafood Companies in North America.’
The report shows U.S. consumers spent an estimated $69.8 billion (€47.9 billion) for seafood products in 2008, including $46.8 billion (€32.1 billion) in sales at restaurants, takeaway outlets, caterers, and other businesses; $22.7 billion (€15.6 billion) in retail sales for home consumption; and $389.4 million (€267 million) for industrial fish products.
The United States imports more fish than any other nation except China. More of this imported seafood comes from Canada than from any other country.
The average American eats approximately 16.5 lbs (7.5 kg) of seafood, and the average Canadian eats 50 lbs (23.1 kg) of seafood per year. While U.S. seafood consumption is substantially less than Canada’s, the amount of seafood that Americans eat continues to increase.
NOAA and Norwegian researchers recently completed a comparative analysis of marine ecosystems in the North Atlantic and North Pacific to see what factors support fisheries production, leading to new insights that could improve fishery management plans and the ecosystems.
Known as MENU, for Marine Ecosystems of Norway and the U.S., the collaborative project involved scientists at the NOAA Fisheries Service’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center and Alaska Fisheries Science Center and colleagues at the Institute of Marine Research in Norway. Results of their analyses, funded by the Norwegian Research Council, were recently published in a special issue of the journal Progress in Oceanography.
Researchers involved in MENU and in other comparative analyses found underlying patterns in the ecosystems that would not have been apparent had only one ecosystem been studied. For example, MENU results revealed that deeper eastern ocean boundary systems, like those off Alaska or in the eastern North Atlantic off Europe, are more strongly influenced by bottom-up mechanisms, known as forcing. These would include broad scale oceanographic systems like the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the El Nino Southern Oscillation.
Shallower western boundary systems, mainly on continental shelves, like Georges Bank and other areas off the east coast of the U.S. and Canada, are more strongly influenced by top-down processes, such as fisheries exploitation. “Both top-down and bottom-up processes occur in all of these ecosystems, but being able to determine their relative importance is difficult.,” Link said.
The researchers compared marine ecosystems in the northern hemisphere and mostly in high latitudes, ranging from the eastern Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska in the North Pacific to Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine, North Sea and the Adriatic Sea off Italy. Other ecosystems studied included the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Scotian Shelf, Newfoundland Shelf, Southern New England, Gulf of Finland, and the Baltic Sea. All of these ecosystems support commercially important fisheries.
Fisheries landings in the ecosystems studied appear to have shifted from groundfish to invertebrates, such as squid, shrimp and scallops. In many, the fish community has changed from one dominated by demersal or bottom-dwelling species to one dominated by pelagic or upper water column species. The researchers note that it is unclear if their findings are true of all marine ecosystems, or just those studied. One of the many questions raised by the comparative analyses is whether similar species in different ecosystems react to environmental conditions in similar ways, or whether the local ecosystems override global factors.
Fisheries production varies widely among ecosystems, and is affected by changing natural and human-induced factors such as climate, pollution and fishing effort. With so many factors involved, Link said scientists need to understand the relative importance of each factor in each ecosystem, something that is difficult to achieve but important for an ecosystem approach to fisheries management and conservation.
Scientists are already undertaking more integrated ecosystem assessments like MENU in the U.S. to build on decades of smaller scale, more focused studies on individual ecosystems. Comparative Analysis of Marine Ecosystem Organization, or CAMEO, is a partnership between NOAA’s Fisheries Service and the National Science Foundation to advance understanding of marine ecological systems using a comparative approach.
Last week, the U.S. Navy announced its decision to deploy the USS Freedom (LCS 1) in early 2010 to the Southern Command and Pacific Command areas ahead of her originally scheduled 2012 maiden deployment.
According to U.S. Navy leaders, Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) are needed now to close urgent warfighting gaps.
“Deploying LCS now is a big step forward in getting this ship where it needs to be – operating in the increasingly important littoral regions,” said Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations. “We must deliver this critical capability to the warfighter now.”
The Freedom will have an immediate impact on fleet readiness and global reach as an asset with unique combat capabilities and the ability to meet littoral tasking not previously seen in the modern cruiser or destroyer fleet.
“The Navy plans to build a considerable number of littoral combat ships which will form the backbone of our future fleet,” said Adm J. C. Harvey, Jr., commander, U.S. Fleet Forces, charged with executing the early deployment. “The sooner we integrate them into our fleet, the sooner we can incorporate them in the order of battle. This deployment offers a golden opportunity to learn by doing. Employing the USS Freedom in theatre two years ahead of a normal timeline allows us to incorporate lessons that can only be learned in a deployment setting more quickly and effectively in the LCS fleet integration process.”
In evaluating options for deploying the Freedom earlier than originally scheduled, the Navy took into consideration several key factors including combat systems testing, shakedown of the ship systems and overseas sustainment with a new concept of operations and crew training.
To facilitate the early deployment, the Navy adjusted the Freedom testing schedule, prioritized testing events needed for deployment and deferred others not required for the missions envisioned during this deployment. The Freedom recently completed Industrial Post Delivery Availability 2, which also supported an early deployment.