Archive for » February 26th, 2012«

Luxury yacht sales in S’pore expected to rise

SINGAPORE – Luxury yacht sales in Singapore are expected to rise on the back of rising wealth and affluence in the region.

Market players say they expect sales revenue of such craft to grow by as much as 15 per cent this year and they believe customers are likely to demand bigger boats as well.

The managing director of boating event organiser TMX Show Productions, Herman Ho said: “The industry now contributes merely less than 1 per cent to Singapore’s economy but it’s definitely on a gradual upswing momentum.”

The company organises the annual Boat Asia show in Singapore and last year the event generated about S$30 million in sales, according to Mr Ho.

Meanwhile, yacht dealers like Ms Annie Lin, the managing director of Taiwan-headquartered firm Horizon Yachts, highlighted that boat enthusiasts are also going for larger and more luxurious yachts.

“Earlier this year, we have seen a surge of people asking for bigger boats like the super-yacht – yachts that are longer than 24 metres. We expect sales to fare better with bigger boats this year,” said Ms Lin.

Experts say superyachts which measure about 100m long, can cost over S$100 million. Meanwhile, an average yacht can cost between S$200,000 and S$2 million.

However, boat owners would also have to take into account maintenance and upkeep costs which can range between 10 per cent and 25 per cent of the boat’s price a month.

The upbeat sentiment on sales prospects is buoyed by recent data which showed that the number of billionaires in Asia have grown to 332 in 2011 from 100 the year before.

“Traditionally, we have more expatriates, now we see more local Chinese and people around the Asian region and even the Russians – they have properties, investments and businesses here, so they buy and park their boats here in Singapore,” says Mr Ho.

The growing boating industry in Singapore also meant more jobs being created in the past few years. Experts estimated that some 3,000 people are now employed in the industry and they expect the number to increase about 10 to 15 per cent annually over the next few years.

“This caters to the high end service industry, you’ll attract the superyacht here with an average spending of S$188,000 to S$314,000 each time on refuel-ing, restocking and refitting,” Mr Ho comments.

At the same time, the Singapore-based managing director of boating firm ProMetheus Marine, Mr Alan Pickering, said that he is also upbeat of his company’s prospects this year.

Mr Pickering said last year was “a slow year for the company with six boats sold totalling S$2.5 million”.

He added that last year’s slower performance was in contrast to his achievement in 2007, when he sold 40 boats worth S$50 million.

Looking forward, Mr Pickering added “this year is going to be a better year, I’m confident we’ll surpass last year’s record – two steel boats worth S$1.7 million (were) already sold in these two months.”

Experts said that one setback for Singapore’s boating industry is its lack of berthing capacity for these luxury yachts.

Mr Ho said: “We may need to have more marinas and berthing facilities because I foresee in the next three to five years, if there’s no added capacity to the marina, we will run out of berths for boats, just like what’s happening to Hong Kong.”

He said that this would hinder future growth in the industry. “If there are no more berths, people can’t buy boats and that will definitely affect the industry in a big way,” said Mr Ho.


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Go Fish flops in first year

The center in reality drew about 15,000 in its first 12 months of operation, giving plenty of ammunition to those who criticized then-Gov. Sonny Perdue for spending $19 million on the center and statewide mega-boat ramp construction during a budget crisis. Cutbacks at the time included furloughs and layoffs of state employees.

The boat ramps, which included large parking areas, were intended to draw fishing tournaments to the state. Some argue the results of that have been dubious, with 14 of the 17 boat ramps completed and only five hosting tournaments.

Perdue, who is from Houston County, touted Go Fish as an effort to encourage fishing tourism. He said the $19 million was coming from a bond issue, therefore no cuts would have been prevented had the center not been built.

Supporters say a stepped-up marketing campaign that began in November will improve attendance, and only recently has the center been fully completed. An approximate 1.5-acre fish pond opened in October, said center program manager Jeremy Wixson, and that has already proven one of the center’s most popular features, along with a wildlife section that includes hunting simulators.

Also, one of the center’s largest aquariums was shut down due to a leak, but that has been repaired. A problem with the filtering system led to algae growth and green water at times. Wixson said steps have been taken to correct that problem, but he won’t know for sure whether it will be an issue this year until the weather warms up. The largest tanks are outdoors.

The center features large and small tanks totaling about 180,000 gallons with 70 species of fish and other aquatic wildlife found in Georgia lakes, rivers and swamps. It has fishing simulators and a wall covered with replicas of state-record fish. It also has a fish hatchery, which raises sturgeon, walleye and potentially any other kind of freshwater fish. The fish are used to restore populations in public waters, Wixson said, and the hatchery currently is focused on restoring walleye and sturgeon in the Coosa River system.

It also has an area with three alligators.

State Sen. Ross Tolleson, R-Perry, said he believes attendance will steadily improve with better marketing, including billboards that have been placed on Interstate 75.

“The first year, there was probably not the proper amount of marketing done,” said Tolleson, who chairs the Natural Resources Committee. “It’s a great facility, and I think we will get a lot more tourism traffic now that there is some signage on the interstate. It’s one of those things that’s a work in progress.”

Center funded through fees, grants

The center is closed on Monday, open only to school groups Tuesday through Thursday, and open to the public Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children.

According to Department of Natural Resources figures, attendance in the first 15 months of operation, through the end of January, was 16,242 general admission visitors and 2,789 educational participants, for a total of 19,031, generating $89,361 in revenue.

The annual budget, including the cost of operations, eight full-time and two part-time employees, is $692,287.

According to DNR spokeswoman Liz Starkey, the funding comes from federal Sport Fish Restoration grants, state fishing licenses and admission sales at the center. The federal money comes from federal taxes on ammunition, guns, fishing equipment and motorboat fuel. The state can get the federal money, she said, only if it spends 100 percent of fishing and hunting license revenue on wildlife programs.

She said there was no revenue projection when the center opened, and it is not meant to be self-sufficient.

She also noted that in January 2011, the center drew 532 visitors, and this January it drew 1,017.

“I think we will definitely be able to improve attendance,” she said. “It’s a great place to have a family fun day.”

Visitors enjoy facility

Although on Thursdays the center is normally open only to school groups, an exception was made last week due to a youth event at the Georgia National Fairgrounds Agricenter. About a dozen visitors were at the center around noon, and those interviewed said they were enjoying it. The center is located just off Perry Parkway at the south end of the fairgrounds.

Debbie Bennett of Kathleen and her 8-year-old son, Aaron, were using pieces of hot dog to try to catch fish in the pond. She said they have made several visits to the center, and it’s one of Aaron’s favorite places to go.

He said he likes it because the pond is catch and release, so there are plenty of fish to catch.

“I really like the fishing here,” he said. “The fish make me mad though. They keep taking my bait. Stupid fish.”

Wixson estimated that since the pond opened, he has probably seen 50 people, from 2 years old to 60, catch their first fish from the pond.

“It’s a sport they can participate in their whole life,” he said.

Fishing poles and bait — hot dog pieces kept in a cooler — are provided for visitors who want to try their luck in the pond.

Billy Little of Pickens County in north Georgia was making his first visit to the center with his son. He said he only found out about it after stopping by the Visitor’s Center in Perry on Thursday while attending an event at the fairgrounds.

“It’s very interesting,” he said, as he browsed a collection of old fishing reels.

Boat ramps meant to boost tourism

Go Fish is a public-private partnership that included private donations to help build the center and the boat ramps. The majority of the ramps were planned along the coast and in south Georgia, though there are also ramps in Hall and Troup counties.

They are intended to help bring tournaments around the state.

Some have questioned the economic impact projections the state has offered for the tournaments, but Tolleson said even if those projections are off, he believes the actual impact is worth the investment.

Each ramp cost $800,000 to $1 million with the state putting up $400,000 and the rest coming from local communities. Tolleson said once constructed, the ramps do not carry any ongoing costs.

“There is big business in fishing,” he said. “The local communities can market those, and you have people coming in and eating in restaurants and staying in hotels.”

He said there has been no effort to remove Go Fish funding from this year’s budget.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.




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Big spenders expected to flock to Dubai International Boat Show

(MENAFN Press) Major luxury brands and more than 750 exhibitors will showcase the latest high-end superyachts, watercrafts and equipment

26 February 2012

Keen interest from the Middle East’s high net worth individuals (HNWI) is predicted at the 20th Dubai International Boat Show where major luxury brands and equipment will be showcased next month. The show runs from March 13 to 17 at the Dubai International Marine Club. A total of 750 exhibitors from over 40 countries will attend.

High-end customers

With the number of HNWIs in the region surging ahead last year, organisers are confident of the interest in this year’s event with more than 25,000 visitors expected. According to the latest World Wealth Report published by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini, the Middle East had one of the highest growth rates after Africa. Those with more than USD1 million in wealth rose by 10.4 per cent to 440,000 individuals.

“Every year, the boat show attracts an audience of HNWIs and that is the foundation of the region’s luxury consumer market. They come to see our exhibiting companies’ new superyachts, watercrafts and related equipment, but they also like the social networking with other enthusiasts who are attracted to the show’s other luxury offerings, such as the Supercars,” said Trixee Loh, Senior Vice President at Dubai World Trade Centre and organiser of the show.

Loh said the Dubai International Boat Show celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and continues to attract some of the most prestigious names in their respected fields, which emphasises the world class calibre of the exhibitors, VIP visitors and buyers who attend the show annually.

Last year the Dubai International Boat Show recorded its biggest sale during the show, a 40-metre Sunseeker superyacht was sold for a staggering Dh100 million. Additionally, exhibitors reported excellent sales with smaller boats, mid-range yachts and superyachts all selling well in the first three days of the event.

Highlights

A key segment of the show that captures visitors’ imaginations is the Marina display area, comprising the largest on-water display in the Middle East, including the superyachts of 25 metres and above.

Along with the popular Marina Display Area, the other areas of interest are Luxury Supplies Services area where the finest luxury boat builders from around the world can be found, and the Equipment Supplies Services space, which is an indoor area filled with exhibitors specialising in products essential to the supply and servicing of the leisure marine industry.

Following the success of the hugely successful Supercar Promenade that was introduced last year, the finest models on four wheels will be back in force at the show to align perfectly with the prestige of the high-end boating brands.

Exhibitors and sponsors

For the third year in a row, luxury car brand Mercedes-Benz and elite watchmaker Officine Panerai have confirmed they will act as supporting sponsors of the show.

Wassim Derbi, Marketing Manager of Gargash Enterprises, said: “We have partnered with the Dubai International Boat Show 2012 for the third consecutive year as the Official Car Sponsor and look forward to featuring the latest models from Mercedes-Benz at this prestigious event. Amongst the line-up of Mercedes-Benz vehicles to be showcased this year are the SLS AMG Roadster, the all new M-Class, and much more.”

“The boat show is a premium, high-end event and has become a ‘must-attend’ in the calendars of people across the region. As the event celebrates 20 years, the Gargash Enterprises team would like to congratulate the organisers as well as the team behind this spectacular annual event and also wish for more successful years ahead.”

Panerai’s Managing Director, Milvin George, agrees the annual boat show appeals to the region’s luxury community, adding that “the Dubai International Boat Show is very dynamic and vibrant, attracting the top mariners and sea lovers of the Middle East region. With the sea being part of Panerai’s DNA, the boat show is an opportunity for the brand to connect with the universe of sea lovers and to make them feel that they are in the right environment inside our VIP welcome lounge. The show gives us the right exposure and increases our brand awareness.”

The Dubai International Boat Show brings together many of the yachting and boating world’s most famous and prestigious names. Among these, a record number of 11 Superyacht Builders Association (SYBAss) members, the most respected and exclusive superyacht association globally. Among the prized names, Abeking Rasmussen, AMELS, Benetti,CRN, Feadship, Fincantieri, Heesen Yachts, Lurssen, Oceanco, San Lorenzo, and Trinity Yachts, have all confirmed their participation at the 20th anniversary edition of the show and will showcase their latest yacht models and designs in the dedicated SYBAssPavilion as well as the SuperyachtPavilion.

The vast number of new exhibitors coupled with the Dubai International Boat Show stalwarts including Al Rubban, Al Shaali, Aquaspeed. ART Marine, Azimut, Cummins, Emirates Boats, Gulf Craft – who celebrates its 30th anniversary – HeinenHopman, Princess Yachts, Sunseekerand Westport also ensure that the 2012 Dubai International Boat Show will be the most successful yet.

Leading marine equipment companies such as Exalto Emirates, Elcome, Gulf Development Systems, Japan Marine, MTU and Yamaha are also investing heavily in the Dubai International Boat Show due to increased demand from regional boat builders, and the latest international marine technologywill be showcased by specialist exhibitors from the national pavilions of Australia, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Turkey and South Korea among others.

The 20th anniversary of the Dubai International Boat Show will be held at the Dubai International Marine Club – Mina Seyahi from 13 – 17 March 2012 and will open to trade visitors and the general public from 3:00pm – 9:30pm daily.


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Fishing should be great this spring

Hello Anglers! It’s good to be talking about what I love to do most, and that’s fishing on the Texas Coast. Driving over the Guadalupe River Bridge a few weeks ago caused me to be truly grateful. The river was at flood stage dumping all kinds of much needed fresh water into the back of San Antonio Bay. The currents will pull the water toward the Port O’Connor and Port Aransas jetties so that all bays in between will get a percentage of fresh water. This is truly a blessing! Fishing from Port O’Connor to Rockport should be tremendous this spring and summer. We’ve had a considerable amount of rain but we can still use a lot more. Most ponds, lakes and creeks are still lower than the norm but I’m truly thankful for what we have already received.

All my trips since the first part of January have been in the Baffin Bay arena. Fishing in Baffin Bay this past December was the best in years but numerous fronts with extreme high barometer levels have made fishing or should I say catching more famine than feast from the first of the year through the first week of February. More reports of big trout being caught have come in the second week of February through now which shows that Baffin Bay fishing is fixing to bust wide open. I’ve had several trips down there when the water has been too calm or too foggy. We just need some consistent weather patterns. It seems like the fish are feeding heavily every 3rd or 4th day. Patience and being at the right place at the right time is still crucial. Checking major fish feeding times are also crucial. Make sure you’re in your best spot and grind it out with confidence until the major fishing time ends. Key lime, solid white and purple with white Gamblers slow rolled across waist deep water over soft mud and grass have taken a big percentage of big trout. Pink has also been very effective. The Pink Fat Boy Corky, Pink Corky Devil, Pink Shine Gulp Jerk Shads and Pink Glitter Paddle Tail soft plastics by Brown Lures have also been the go to baits. Jimmy Burns caught a 9-1/2-pound beast on a Black Morning Glory Bass-Assassin two days before the SCB Baffin Cup Tourney. The big trout are there!

Fifty-six teams with 122 of the finest anglers showed up for the first Simmons Custom Boat Baffin Cup this past weekend held out of Doc’s Seafood next to Marker 37 Marina. This was a first class tournament put on by Eric Simmons of Simmons Custom Boats and his staff. This was a two day tourney with no boundaries. Anglers could fish anywhere their boat would take them. All participants had to check in at the pier in the morning before takeoff. My son, Daniel, and I also fished in this tourney but boat problems caused us to go home a day early. First place paid out a whopping $20,000 and was won by just .02 of an ounce. I can’t wait until the next one!

Here are the results of the top six teams:•  1) David Rowsey, Mark Holt 41.22 lbs.

•  2) Chad Peterek, Rocky Whitley 41.20 lbs.

•  3) Eric Simmons, Jimmy Lloyd 37.66 lbs.

•  4) Jake Luedecke, Mark Atkinson 36.77 lbs.

•  5) Jason King, Jay Ray Watkins 35.77 lbs.

•  6) Clint Anderson, Josh Clamer 32.40 lbs.

The team of Eric Simmons weighed in the big trout — 7.94 lbs. Ninety-five percent of the trout caught were alive and released back into the bay. How awesome is that!

More Good News! The CCA of Texas recently announced a $500,000 matching grant to initiate a new push in generating the funding to open Cedar Bayou and Vincent Slough. After decades of negative impacts from siltation and water flows, an estimated $6.5 million effort will be required to open the vital connection from Mesquite and Aransas Bays to the Gulf of Mexico. There is still a lot of money to be raised and a lot of work to do, but the CCA Texas kicked off a critical next step with this financial support. Along with the kick-off funding CCA Texas will partner with Aransas County in providing funds to secure a professional fundraiser to pursue the needed dollars to complete the dredging project. To date, Aransas County has already secured $500,000 in Coastal Impact Assistance Program funds for the project.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for the economic and environmental future of Aransas County and the State of Texas,” said Judge C.H. Mills. “Our partnership with CCA in this important effort is a much needed boost to push this initiative forward.” This came from a news release from the CCA headquarters in Houston. This is great news. I encourage you to support Texas CCA and your local Mid-Coast Chapter CCA so that additional funds can be sent for this much needed project.

Good Fishin’Captain Danny




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Phuket Boat Lagoon to launch weekend market

PHUKET: Phuket Boat Lagoon will launch a new weekend market catering to boat owners on the weekend starting Saturday, March 10.

The Weekend Boat Market is the brainchild of Boon Yongsakul, a member of the Phuket Boat Lagoon management team and a descendant of Phuket Boat Lagoon founder Kanit Yongsakul.

The main concept of the market is a new shopping and trade market focusing on boats and marine equipment, Mr Boon explained.

It will also hold garage sales and feature a garden food park.

Promoted as a highlight is an outdoor stage for presenting live entertainment.

Located on more than six rai of green lawn at the entrance to the Boat Lagoon, the market will be divided into four zones: boats, marine equipment, garage sale and the garden food park.

The market will be open every Saturday and Sunday from 3 to 10pm.

“We expect to have about 70 booths and right now we have about 50 operators who are interested in joining the project,” Mr Boon explained.

“We got the original idea from the market in Brisbane, Australia, but we will adjust the market to fit in with local culture. The potential consumers will be expats and foreigners.

“The market will have various products including secondhand items. Besides, things will be cheaper than the market price because this market will be a center for boat products. People can discuss the price and exchanging equipment,” said Mr Boon.

“We expect the market to generate about one million baht in trade, while the budget to set up the project is about five million baht.” he added.

For further information, contact BMS Event Organizer chompoo@bmsevent.com or call 088-7680471 or 089-4745253, Fax: 076-620516.


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Fishing, boat topics are open for discussion TOM VENESKY OUTDOORS – Times

TOM VENESKY

Posted:Today
Updated: 4:06 AM

Fishing, boat topics are open for discussion TOM VENESKY OUTDOORS

State Rep. Gerald Mullery is bringing officials from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission to town next week for a public meeting with anglers and boaters.


Tom Venesky

IF YOU GO

The meeting will be held on Thursday, March 1, at 7 p.m., in the Crestwood High School Auditorium in Wright Township.

The forum will give anglers a chance to voice their concerns directly to the source. The agency will have an opportunity to let anglers and boaters know what’s going on and what’s coming up.

“My office gets questions all the time from anglers and boaters,” Mullery said. “Instead of passing the buck, we wanted to bring the experts here to answer questions directly and give the public an opportunity to have a face-to-face discussion.”

There’s going to be a lot to talk about.

PFBC executive director John A. Arway, commissioner Norm Gavlick, who represents the Northeast Region and Mullery, who serves as Democratic secretary of the House Game and Fisheries Committee, will serve as the panel for the forum.

With spring right around the corner and the preseason stockings for the opening day of trout set to begin in a few weeks, the timing of the forum couldn’t be better.

I called Gavlick for a sneak preview at some of the topics that could come up, and the list is long and varied.

Here’s a brief synopsis:

• The new life jacket law takes effect on Nov. 1. It requires anyone in a canoe, kayak or boat less than 16 feet in length to wear a life jacket from Nov. 1 to April 30.

• Legislation is in the works that will increase the penalties for fishing violations, according to Gavlick. “We don’t think there’s enough of a deterrent now,” he said. “Some of the penalties haven’t been increased in 20 or 30 years.”

• Legislation that would allow the agency to implement new license packages. Gavlick said it won’t raise license fees, but rather give the PFBC more options when it comes to license packages.

• An overview on trout stocking changes that are being considered.

• The agency hopes to gain $1 million from a Marcellus impact fee that will be used to hire an additional class of waterways conservation officers to deal solely with gas drilling issues. Gavlick said 10-15 WCOs could be added.

• There is talk to construct a new control tower at the Francis Walter Dam that will allow more cold water to be released into the Lehigh River throughout the summer. More studies are needed, Gavlick said, but if such a tower can be constructed, cold water could be released as far as 25 miles downriver. “That would create a tremendous tailwater fishery that would rival the fisheries out west,” Gavlick said. “We need studies to determine if the economic impact will exceed the cost, and we hope that to be the case.”

• The possibility of requiring canoes, kayaks and non-powered boats to be registered.

Those are just some of the topics that could come up for discussion Thursday night, not to mention the smallmouth bass fishery on the Susquehanna River and the reintroduction of shad to the river.

“This is an opportunity to address these things with the public and gain their input,” Gavlick said. “We do take it into consideration when we make a decision.”

Mullery organized a similar meeting last October with Pennsylvania Game Commission officials, and he hopes to make the meetings an annual event.

The meetings are a great idea – one that ensures that hunters, anglers and boaters have a voice.


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ISAF Sailing World Cup : Semaine Olympique Francaise 2012

A Media Centre will welcome accredited journalists and photographers to the Semaine Olympique Francaise. Press realeases in French and English will be available and press conferences will be daily held with the competitors. ADSL and Internet acces will be organized for the accredited media.

During the last 14 years, the press and communication system used in Hyères has improved a lot, becoming one of the major objectives for the organizing committee. Beside a press centre providing journalists with facilities as press room with telephone and internet connexions, boats, direct results…, the event has his own video production team. Editing is transmitted daily to TVs and Press agencies, and footage are provided free of charge to TV companies not present on the spot or to teams requesting it.

For further details please use the contacts below.

Fabienne MORIN
Agence Effets Mer
Phone : Espace Presse : +33 (0)6 87 25 83 15
Email : Click here to send an email
Website : http://www.effetsmer.com/

The first ISAF Sailing World Cup launched at the end of 2008 bringing a new annual series of sailing to the international sports calendar. The fourth edition of the World Cup begins in Melbourne in November 2011. The World Cup is open to the sailing events chosen for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Competitions.

Incorporating existing major regattas, the series will kicks off with Sail Melbourne, Australia in November, followed by the Rolex Miami OCR, USA; the Trofeo SAR Princesa Sofia MAPFRE, Palma, Spain; Semaine Olympique Francaise, Hyeres, France; the Delta Lloyd Regatta, Medemblik, the Netherlands; Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, Weymouth, Great Britain; and Kieler Woche, Germany.

Media contacts for the ISAF Sailing World Cup series and the individual World Cup events can be found below.

Click here for World Cup media contacts.

You can find out more on the ISAF Sailing World Cup microsite at www.sailing.org/isafsailingworldcup.

For more details on sponsorship and advertising opportunities contact the ISAF Marketing and Media department at www.sailing.org/contactmarketing.


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Sen. Jacobs on Boat License Fees

From the Office of Sen. Nancy Jacobs:
———
Recreational boaters fill the beautiful waterways lining our state. Workboats bring in the crabs and oysters for which Maryland is famous. Annapolis is the sailing capitol of the world. But from Annapolis comes news that those who own a boat face paying a huge jump in licensing fees.

Currently, boaters pay $24 every two years for a license. Now, the fees will be based on boat size with most licenses costing five times more, about $125. Bigger boats could pay up to $700 more for two years.    

The Department of Natural Resources explains it needs the higher fees because the Army Corps of Engineers will no longer pay to dredge a number of waterways. That is a critical task because boaters don’t want to be silted in and wait till high tide to get their boats out. The other reason for the hike is funds that used to come to DNR from boat sales have dropped by half due to the tough economy.

The proposed boat license fees will put us higher than Virginia where a three year registration at most is $45. In Delaware the highest fee for big boats is $60 a year.

It’s important to worry that this could put Maryland’s at a regional disadvantage and subject the boating industry to another economic hit.

There may be a false perception that boat owners in our state can easily afford a fee hike. But I think the majority of them are not well heeled and prioritize their spending to keep their love of boating alive.

Dredging and other waterway maintenance must be done. But it’s critical to point out that Governor O’Malley has raided the Waterway Improvement Fund, where boat license fees go in the past. Over $1 million dollars has been taken for other purposes. It’s hard to convince boaters to accept the giant fee hike when that happened and could happen again. Not to mention, boaters pay the gas tax at the dock but that money goes to fixing roads, not waterway improvements.

Also, a recent state audit of the Department of Natural Resources found careless stewardship of taxpayer funds. An employee credit card had questionable charges topping $71,000. A $1.7 million account wasn’t analyzed and DNR lost $30,000 in interest by missing a federal deadline.

The administration must do a better job of managing the public money before it comes begging for more.


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Tompkins: Fishing show offers retreat

Late February always torments Texas anglers with mixed signals.

It gives us a couple of days of sunny, warm weather like those we saw during the middle of this past week, and we’re convinced it signals the arrival of spring, and with it an almost immediate and miraculous improvement in fishing conditions and success.

Then another front arrives, bringing with it the cold (or at least chilly and windy) reality that, no, it’s still not quite spring. We’ll have to wait a little longer.

This late February, perhaps more so than most, is sending anglers mixed signals. Some are positive. Some are not. Some are a little of both.

Cornucopia for anglers

On the positive side, this week brings an event that for 37 years has been one of the surest signals that if spring’s not here just yet, you can climb into a center-console boat and see it from there.

The 37th annual Houston Fishing Show opens Wednesday in the George R. Brown Convention Center for a five-day run.

The event is built around recreational fishing, with aisles packed by booths holding fishing guides, fishing gear manufacturers, tackle dealers, boating and other marine products and every manner of fishing-related stuff.

Dave Holder, creator of the event many Houston-area anglers attend as a kind of ritual pilgrimage that inspires them for the coming fishing season, said this year’s show will feature several new or newly tweaked products – fishing lures, rods, new models of reels – for freshwater, inshore and offshore anglers.

There are boats, too. All fishing boats. And some of them reflect how fishing has changed over the past couple of decades.

“Fishing from kayaks has just exploded, and interest just keeps getting stronger every year,” Holder said.

Little more than a decade ago, few, if any, kayaks were found among the boating displays.

“This year, we’ve probably got more kayaks in this show than regular boats,” Holder said.

One thing hasn’t changed; the Fishing Show offers a nearly constant stream of seminars on fishing-related topics presented by some of the state’s most experienced and popular fishing guides. The 30- to 45-minute seminars, which often include question-and-answer opportunities, are hugely popular with anglers looking to improve their knowledge and skills.

The seminar schedule, show hours and the lineup of Fishing Show exhibitors is available on the event’s website at http://houstonfishingshow.com.

Brief season ahead

To say Texas offshore anglers got a mixed message this month would be an understatement.

Federal fisheries managers earlier this month announced that, because the Gulf of Mexico’s long-overfished red-snapper population has been recovering quite nicely under extremely restrictive regulation of recreational and commercial harvest, the annual allowable catch of the popular reef fish would be increased this year.

The 2012 annual quota of red snapper for the Gulf’s recreational anglers will jump to 3.959 million pounds, up from the 2011 quota of 3.525 million pounds.

You’d think that would mean the 2012 recreational red-snapper season will be longer than the shortest – a 48-day season imposed this past year.

You’d be wrong.

That 48-day 2011 snapper season was set based on projections of how many red snapper anglers would land and keep over that period, and the average weight of those fish.

Federal officials say their harvest data shows recreational anglers in 2011 took far more red snapper than they predicted. About 1 million pounds more.

The biggest reason for the overage? The red snapper population is so good that the average weight of the fish anglers caught and kept was higher than predicted. A lot higher.

To keep the Congress-mandated red snapper rebuilding plan on track, those extra million pounds or so of snapper anglers are said to have taken from the Gulf of Mexico this past year will be subtracted from the 2012 quota.

Preliminary projections indicate anglers will catch the reduced 2012 quota in about 40 days.

Final determination of the length of the 2012 recreational red snapper season won’t be made until late April or early May, with the season set to open June 1.

But the way it looks now, that season will be 40 days or maybe even shorter, and certainly the briefest recreational red-snapper season in history.

Drought lingers on

After Texas in 2011 suffered its most intense one-year drought in at least a century, the state has seen rains return over the past couple of months. Lots of rain, at least in portions of Texas.

That rain has swelled and even filled some withered river and reservoirs, inundating fertile shorelines and setting the stage for a possible boom in fish populations.

But in much of the state, those rains have not washed away the drought or its effects.

Sobering evidence of that came this past week as Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials warned that its Dundee Fish Hatchery, one of the state’s five freshwater fish hatcheries and its major producer of striped bass and hybrid striped bass, faces closing its operations because of a lack of water.

“Although we have not officially made the decision to suspend operations at Dundee for 2012, it looks like we will not have water to operate this spring and we do not plan to put any ponds into production unless conditions change within the next couple of weeks,” Todd Engeling, TPWD hatchery program director said in a released statement.

Dundee, near Wichita Falls, holds a little more than one-third of TPWD’s freshwater hatchery production capacity and annually yields 3 million to 4 million striped bass and hybrid fingerlings.

The hatchery’s supply of water depends on the level of Lake Kemp, which currently is almost 18 feet below normal pool level and within a foot of the level at which, under contract, the water district controlling the reservoir cuts off water to the hatchery.

Unless Lake Kemp’s watershed receives considerable rain in coming weeks, withdrawals dedicated to irrigation will drop the water level below that cutoff level, and Dundee will be forced to suspend operations.

 

shannon.tompkins@chron.com


Similar news:

Sailing season is finally underway


Published on Saturday 25 February 2012 12:00

The 2012 season kicked-off at Burwain Sailing Club at the weekend.

After a delay of two weeks due to the lake freezing over, the first racing season took place on Sunday.

Two races were sailed in bright sunshine and moderate winds, with 10 boats out on the water.

Both races were won by Innes Armstrong with 16-year-old Jamie Partridge crewing in their GP14.

A number of teams from Burwain Sailing Club will be going to the GP14 World Championship at Looe in Devon in August, and this was the start of their preparations for the event.

Michael Leake scored a second and a third in the two races in his Streaker singlehanded Dinghy.

The Brass Monkey Series will be decided over the remaining two races next Sunday.

The full program of racing on Saturdays and Sundays commences on the second weekend in March. Training courses for beginners also start on Saturday, March 10th.

Meanwhile, the club, based on Burwain Lake near Foulridge, is supporting national initiatives to get more people involved in sport, based on the interest created by the London Olympics.

Patrick Hamilton, Commodore of Burwain Sailing Club explains: “Sailing is a sport that can be enjoyed by everyone, from kids to pensioners. It’s something that you can take up at any age. How physically demanding it is depends on the type of boat you want to sail.

“We have always run courses for beginners but this year we will be running more courses than before and working to raise the profile of the club and dinghy sailing locally.

Great Britain has done well in the sailing events at the Olympics in recent years and it’s likely the sailing team will be making a big contribution to the team’s medal count. We hope coverage of team GB’s success will inspire local people to try the sport.”

You don’t have to live next to the sea to be a top sailor. Ian Dobson, who learned to sail at Burwain, was a contender for an Olympic team place, and in the end Stuart Blithell, a sailor from Rochdale’s Hollingworth Lake Sailing Club was selected in the 470 class.

The club are having an Olympic-themed open day on June 9th and will give anyone who wants to give it a try a chance to sail in a race.

Hamilton added: “Sailing suffers from the perception that it is an expensive or elitist sport. In fact it’s cheaper than most sports. We have club boats for hire and good second hand boats cost next to nothing in depreciation when they are looked after. We have Community Amateur Sports Club status and welcome all new members. We have made successful lottery grant applications in the past and currently are applying for funding for three new club boats suitable for beginners.”

For further information, visit the clubs website www.burwain.co.uk


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