Draggin’ up an expensive cod end

A little over four month into full operation, a fisherman took a chunk out of Neptune. Neptune is the $100 millions dollar, publicly funded, scientific underwater observatory, off the coast of Vancouver Island BC, in the Pacific Ocean. The high tech underwater observatory was primarily installed by Alcatel, of France, to study the deep sea environment.

According to news reports, the highly sensitive, and expensive, scientific equipment logged seismic data, to accurately determined that a fishing trawl damaged the equipment. Unfortunately, the said, highly precise and expensive equipment was promptly ripped off the array.

Fishermen were advise to steer clear of the area, and the cable is buried, with the scientific nodes designed to withstand this kind of abuse. But unfortunately the trawl carried off nearly 2 millions dollars worth of scientific equipment. This damage according to Neptune Canada, represents about a 10% capacity of the observatory – the rest of the observatory is running normally.

There is no mention if Neptune Canada has a “no question asked return policy”, but perhaps they should. Having worked on trawlers in that area, there is no question that some fishermen has got some nifty piece of expensive looking hardware sitting on his living room table, next to the empty beer bottles. Might be good for stories and discussions, as was the garbage we trawled up when I was fishing, which according to the senior guys aboard, was routine garbage from US submarines, but in this case, UVic might disagree on the garbage comment.

In the mean time, UVic mentioned hiring a ship, with a day rate of $60k, to search for the missing equipment, which they figure is nearby, on the sea floor. I wonder if they will again resolve to using public money to hire foreign ship to do this work as well. More on the story here and here.

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