Archive for 10/01/2011

James Whittaker – 

Billions of dollars in gold and other precious metals lying beneath the ocean could fund the island’s economy for years to come, according to former Premier Dr David Saul.

Speaking after his international exploration company discovered 200-tonnes of silver on a World War II shipwreck off the coast of Ireland, Dr Saul said the deep-ocean off Bermuda harboured similar treasures.

He believes there are undiscovered shipwrecks thousands of feet below the surface that could be found using the same technology his firm Odyssey Marine — used to locate the SS Gairsoppa.

But he said shipwrecks formed just a fraction of the wealth waiting to be discovered in Bermuda’s territorial waters.

“The future wealth and prosperity of Bermuda is probably going to be under water. The real treasure won’t be defined in Spanish doubloons but in precious metal deposits.”

Odyssey Marine, of which Dr Saul is a co-founder, made world headlines this week for the $150million-haul of silver coins discovered on a cargo ship, that was sunk by a German U-boat 300 miles off the Irish coast in 1941.

Dr Saul, who also made hundreds of dives with pioneer of Bermuda wreck hunting Teddy Tucker in the 1960s, believes a new-era of underwater “prospecting” could generate enormous wealth for the island.

Full story…

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BBC News –

Colombian anti-drugs police have seized a submarine built to smuggle cocaine – the second such find in two days.

Police said the submarine, worth about $2m (£1.2m), could stay under water for up to 10 days.

They said it would have been possible for a crew of up to five people to travel from Colombia to Central America and back without being detected.

The vessel was found in a jungle area in western Choco province after police received a tip-off from an informant.

Officers had to travel by helicopter to the dense jungle area near the Pacific coast.

Deputy Head of Counter-narcotics Police Col Carlos Enrique Rodriguez Gonzalez told the BBC that what his men found there was a lot more advanced than they had expected.

“The submarine can travel up to 5m (16.5ft) below water and stay underwater for up to 10 days, making it possible to transport the drugs to Central America and travel back without being detected,” he said.

He said while the submarine itself was not expensive to build, the sophisticated communications and navigational equipment and the radars it had on board made it worth around $2m.

The vessel, which had been hidden in a wooden shack, measures 12.2m in length, is 3.4m wide and 5m tall and is made of reinforced steel and covered in fibreglass.

It had the name Perla Negra (Black Pearl) painted on its side.

Col Rodriguez said it belonged to Colombia’s largest left-wing rebel group, the Farc, who finance themselves largely through drug trafficking.

Full story…

Cayman News Service –

Scuba diving visitors can now pay less for the certification and the licence to help cull the invasive red lionfish, which have become a major environmental issue in recent years.

With recent approval from the Marine Conservation Board several months ago, Cayman’s dive operators are now able to teach the PADI Lionfish Tracker Distinctive Specialty course, and upon completion, guests receive the PADI c-card plus the local lionfish culling license. And now some Cayman Island dive operators are offering reduced course fees to visitors and residents this fall.

“With reduced course fees for the lionfish culling course for both residents and visitors, we hope will encourage more manpower to help us fight this invasion” comment Steve Broadbelt of Ocean Frontiers in a release from the Cayman Islands Tourism Association.

“We cannot totally eradicate the lionfish, but learning lessons from the Bahamas for example, if we do not keep this fish in check, our indigenous marine life will be gone. This results in a reduction of fish stock, marine life and allows corals to become covered in algae, so the health of the coral reefs is at stake and we need all hands on deck”

Currently, reduced price courses are available from Divetech, Ocean Frontiers, Deep Blue Divers, Cayman Turtle Divers, Divers Down and Dive N Stuff (at the time of release) or check with your local dive shop to inquire about the course.

After your course, there are boats running from various operators every week to cull lionfish, along with the tournaments run by Ambassador Divers, so there is a lot of opportunity to use the new skills.

Full story…

gCaptain –

More than 30 House lawmakers are urging Spanish energy company Repsol YPF S.A. (REP.MC) to abandon its plan to drill for oil in Cuban waters, saying such a move will bolster the financial strength of the Castro regime and could expose Repsol to criminal and civil liabilities in U.S. courts.

In a letter sent to Repsol’s chairman this week, the lawmakers say they “urge Repsol to reassess the risks inherent in partnering with the Castro dictatorship, including the risk to its commercial interests with the United States.”

Repsol spokesman Kristian Rix said the company “is abiding by U.S. embargo legislation, and our drilling plans are in accordance with” safety standards put in place after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Opposition to Repsol’s drilling plans ramped up in recent weeks, as the Spanish company prepares to begin drilling off Cuba’s north coast by the end of the year. A Chinese-built drilling rig that Repsol will use for the project is currently en route from Singapore to Cuba. The rig is expected to arrive in Cuban waters in November or December.

Repsol’s exploratory drilling marks an important step in Cuba’s effort to develop its offshore oil resources, in part to wean itself off imports from Venezuela. U.S. officials believe Cuba’s waters could contain more than 5 billion barrels of undiscovered oil.

Full story…

John Bolton and Dan Blumenthal –

The Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) — signed by the U.S. in 1994 but never ratified by the Senate — is showing some signs of life on Capitol Hill, even as new circumstances make it less attractive than ever. With China emerging as a major power, ratifying the treaty now would encourage Sino-American strife, constrain U.S. naval activities, and do nothing to resolve China’s expansive maritime territorial claims.

At issue is China’s intensified effort to keep America’s military out of its “Exclusive Economic Zone,” a LOST invention that affords coastal states control over economic activity in areas beyond their sovereign, 12-mile territorial seas out to 200 miles. Properly read, LOST recognizes exclusive economic zones as international waters, but China is exploiting the treaty’s ambiguities to declare “no go” zones in regions where centuries of state practice clearly permit unrestricted maritime activity.

Take the issues of intelligence gathering. LOST is silent on the subject in the exclusive zones, so China claims it can regulate (meaning prohibit) such activity.

China wants to deny American access so it can have its way with its neighbors. Beijing is building “anti-access” and “area denial” weapons such as integrated air defenses, submarines, land-based ballistic and cruise missiles, and cyber and anti-satellite systems.

If the Senate ratifies the treaty, America would become subject to its dispute-resolution mechanisms and ambiguities. Right now, since the U.S. is the world’s major naval power, its conduct dominates customary international law — to its decided advantage.

This dispute is not really about law. China simply does not want the U.S. military to gather intelligence near its shores. And others quietly support China’s position, including Russia, Iran, and India. Given China’s incursions into other Asian nations’ exclusive zones, these states may seek to restrict international maritime activities as well, complicating U.S. efforts.

Full story…