NOAA Cracks Down on Jet Ski Rescuers on "Of Men and Mavericks" Movie Set

The federal agency that has upped fines to $2,500 to local Personal Water Craft riders for fighting their tickets, gave out tickets to PWC riders who used the banned craft for lifesaving during the movie filming in Half Moon Bay last week.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration enforcement officials swarmed over the set of the surf movie "Of Men and Mavericks" last week in a helicopter and ship, reportedly handing out three tickets and threatening more, according to the surfing website, Surfline.com.

The site reported that on Thursday a NOAA officer got on a Half Moon Bay harbor loudspeaker and threatened the PWC riders who were leaving the harbor to work the big waves and help rescue actors, if needed, on the surf movie set.

A few weeks ago star Gerard Butler had to be pulled from the waves by a PWC (also called jet skis) after he was severely held down by a wave. He was hospitalized afterwards.

The NOAA official told the lifeguards over the public address system that they would be ticketed unless they moored onto a bigger boat or stayed in the channel. The PWC riders, ignored the warnings and rode out to the big waves offshore, where the filming was. Three of them got tickets when they returned.

The tickets start at $500 and can go up over $100,000 if the person who gets it chooses to fight it. NOAA is charged with protecting the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, one of 13 natural areas set aside in 1992.

PWCs are banned in the Bay except for certain areas, because they allegedly are a threat to wildlife.  Big-wave surfers say the small speedy craft are crucial to save their lives and claim they are the only way to get them speedily out of the far off shore waters when they are injured.

Boats with the same engines as PWCs are allowed anywhere, but surfers say the smaller craft are more maneuverable in troublesome surf.

Friday, NOAA was back, with a Fish and Game boat and a helicopter, taking down PWC serial numbers.

"They probably spent about $300,000 of our tax dollars to get a few skis at Mav's," stuntman Mark Healey told Surfline. You can see pictures of the NOAA enforcement here, photo 16.

Last year NOAA fined two Santa Cruz PWC riders who used their craft off Moss Landing while they practiced for Mavericks on the big waves there. The pair, Scott Jarrett and Jeff Martin, chose to fight the ticket, claiming that NOAA's maps of the restricted area were wrongly drawn.

The surfers said the area allowable for jet skis is actually in an area where protected mammals go to get away from the big waves and the mapped-out path doesn't lead to the waves.

As a result of their choosing to fight the fine, the agency, which judges its own cases, raised their ticket from $500 to $2,500.

Last week NOAA was behind the investigation of marine biologist Nancy Black, who was indicted for allegedly feeding whales in 2005 and tampering with a videotape used as evidence and lying about it. If convicted, she faces 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.

Black formerly worked for the National Marine Mammal Laboratory, a part of NOAA. She was also a member of the Sanctuary Advisory Council, which help makes policy for protecting the refuge to NOAA.

Black's attorney, Lawrence Biegel, said the researcher who ran whale excursions from Monterey, had picked up a piece of blubber already floating in the ocean, tied a rope to it to keep it close to the boat, and filmed whales eating it.

"She was never hiding what she did or how she did it. In fact, she was acting with the knowledge of other marine mammal scientists, some of whom work for agencies of the federal government," he said. Biegel said Black had a permit granted by the federal government to conduct the research," Biegel told the Huffington Post.

Biegel said any editing done to the films was standard, since they were routinely given to passengers on the boats from the company Black is a partner in.

NOAA has been under fire on the East Coast from journalists and legislators. An investigation by Dan Rather showed the government agency had stockpiled a $100 million fund from assets seized from fishermen. Rather produced documents from the Freedom of Information Act showing NOAA enforcement officials used the money for cars, yachts and even a trip to Asia with one of the judges who pronounced sentences and seized assets from the alleged violators.

Rather's show called "Something Fishy,'' documented a federal agency run amok.

Despite repeated requests, Congressman Sam Farr (D-Carmel) whose 17th District includes the Monterey Bay Sanctuary, has declined to comment on the investigation of NOAA or its alleged actions on either coast.

Peter January 11, 2012 at 06:31 PM
I am not a fan of PWC's. They are loud, smelly and obnoxious. In the context of big wave surfing, I believe they are an essential part of the safety of the people riding the waves. I respect the right of people and the choices they make even if I do not agree with them, as long as they are respectful to others. Apparently, our tax dollars are supporting ridiculous rules spawning dictatorial and corrupt behavior. I also doubt sincerely that PWC's are a threat to marine life or the habitat, both of which have larger threats. This is yet another case of government ignorance and abuse (of power, people and money). NOAA should stick to their science and leave the law to local authorities. Big Brother - do you hear me?
Steve January 11, 2012 at 07:14 PM
I recently went to the State Department of CA website and guess what! There are no PWC restrictions listed for ANYWERE in the HMB area. Go look for yourselves, and to the people fighting the tickets.. it might help your case.
Brian Friesen January 11, 2012 at 08:56 PM
Nature is more important than surfing. Nature is for everyone, forever. Surfing is for one person only. Surfers have been riding those waves for decades and part of the sport of riding big waves is unfortunately, risking one's life. If you are not into that, stick to Steamers Lane.
Brad Kava (Editor) January 11, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Brian: we have lifeguards on beaches--why should we forbid them to deep water surfers? Also, Peter, the new PWCs are quiet and don't blow smoke like the old ones. Boats are allowed, why not PWCs? FInally, Steve: the Monterey Sanctuary, like Yosemite, is regulated by the Feds.
david Puu January 11, 2012 at 10:36 PM
Simple fact. The modern day PWC is a four stroke powered watercraft that must comply with stringent emissions and noise controls which are placed upon the manufacturer. As a result of efforts by those manufacturers and Federal regulatory as well as Ca State Controls, the PWC is considered to have THE shallowest environmental impact of any power boat on the sea. None of this ever really made any sense, banning that sort of craft. It sends the wrong message about Environmentalism and Ocean Stewardship to the world. But what it does illustrate is that NOAA, unfortunately is a seriously flawed system and is quite possibly so far out of control that the agency may need to be dissolved. What many do not realize is that both the EPA and NOAA were incepted during the Administration of Richard Nixon, and that they follow a Corporate type mandate-charter of increasing controls that frequently goes un examined for benefit to costs expended, becoming in process, a part of the problem rather than a source of good Science being implemented in a sensible and equitable (legal) manner. Pity. VERY socially, and environmentally expensive.
Scott Jarrett January 12, 2012 at 03:23 AM
There is also no signage explaining the PWC law at any of the harbors in the Monterey bay. They are doing this to bust unexacting victims. Its the cash cow! Like they say " shooting fish in a barrel" they have their own law enforcement, lawyers and judges. Sounds Fair huh?
frobert January 12, 2012 at 04:04 AM
I couldn't agree more!
Xanthippe January 12, 2012 at 07:56 PM
This is why I am no fan of big government - stupid rules and regulations being enforced by idiotic desk jockeys whose only purpose in life is to control the minutiae of our lives. Meanwhile, Sam Farr continues to be useless.
Deb Wong January 12, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Mmm...odd. Very odd...that is, if one thinks that government restrictions and laws should be consistent. Why is that we have laws in California which require the use of helmets on motorcyclists (to protect human lives), laws which require non-smoking in government buildings and restaurants (to protect human lives), and even Cyber Harassment Laws in place, in California (to protect human lives)....but then turn around, and fine those who are out at the site of Mavericks on their PWCs - which are there to PROTECT HUMAN LIVES? What gives? Is this something that should be put up for a vote? My feeling may not be that of those who make the laws, but in this situation, human lives trump all others. Why "protect" us from harm in some ways, but not in others? To answer Brian Friesen's comment that: "..big waves is unfortunately, risking one's life.", then so is driving w/o a seat belt, riding a motorcycle w/o a helmet, and working/living in a building where people smoke. In essence, BE CONSISTENT. All I see is government institutions trying to drum up funds any way they can. Mavericks waves will always be a siren call to those who wish to conquer them.....and government is there, to assess how it can profit from human nature. That's right - human NATURE - as that is nature, too.
j8 January 13, 2012 at 07:42 AM
Jeff Martin January 13, 2012 at 11:42 PM
j8 what about Sion????


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something