Please select your home edition
Edition
SWC newsletters (top)

U.S., Canadian leaders discuss next steps for right whales

by Chris Oliver, NOAA Fisheries 15 Aug 10:59 UTC
North Atlantic right whale mom and calf as seen from a research drone. © Lisa Conger & Elizabeth Josephson / NOAA Fisheries

Last week, I met with officials from Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Transport Canada to continue our bilateral discussions on the conservation and management of the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale.

We have already been coordinating closely with Canada to share innovative techniques and solutions that foster healthy fisheries, reduce the risk of entanglements, and create whale-safe shipping practices. We requested this special meeting because the situation has become even more alarming with the recent discovery of eight dead and four entangled North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada. With fewer than 95 breeding females left, protecting every individual is a top priority, and increased efforts are needed by both countries in order to provide comprehensive protection for this transboundary species.

Specifically, we discussed measures that both countries have undertaken to reduce risk as well as plans for new, stronger measures in the future and highlighted the need for equity in these measures on both sides of the border. Strong protections are needed for right whales, and we believe that only broad-based measures will be effective and resilient to changes in whale distribution, ecological conditions, fishing effort, and shipping patterns over time.

Over the next few months, we will coordinate with Canadian officials on future gear marking schemes in order to improve the ability to identify the source of gear seen on or retrieved from large whales along the eastern seaboard. We will also continue to work with them to identify data and management gaps that are impeding recovery of right whales both in Canada and in the U.S.

Together, we are working to reduce to the maximum extent possible the risk of North Atlantic right whale entanglements in fisheries while ensuring sustainable fisheries and trade.

And while we are working on the transboundary issues, we are also working full speed ahead here at home. Just last week, we began a series of eight public scoping meetings across affected states to collect public comment on this issue. The agency will then compile the information gathered from the public meetings, along with measures created by Maine and other New England states, to develop a proposed rule under the Marine Mammal Protection Act that will further reduce risks to North Atlantic right whales. Although ambitious, we are aiming to have a proposed rule drafted by the end of the calendar year and hope to have it available for public comment in early 2020.

Chris Oliver
Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries

Related Articles

Mako shark tracking shows memory and navigation
These top predators travel far across Pacific, returning to same areas in Southern California Bight The largest effort ever to tag and track shortfin mako sharks off the West Coast has found that they can travel nearly 12,000 miles in a year. The sharks range far offshore, but regularly return to productive waters off Southern California. Posted on 15 Sep
New marine heatwave resembles "the Blob"
Researchers are monitoring a new marine heatwave off the West Coast for effects on marine ecosystem About five years ago "the Blob" of warm ocean water disrupted the West Coast marine ecosystem and depressed salmon returns. Now, a new expanse of unusually warm water has quickly grown in much the same way, in the same area, to almost the same size. Posted on 14 Sep
NOAA scientists track coral bleaching in Hawaii
Satellite data indicate coral reefs are experiencing a major bleaching event The National Coral Reef Monitoring Program surveyed the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument and found extensive bleaching. At Kure Atoll, the northernmost atoll in the archipelago, almost 100 percent of shallow-water corals are bleached. Posted on 13 Sep
NOAA Fisheries to work with Maine lobster industry
Regional measures to reduce the risk of right whale serious injuries and deaths NOAA Fisheries is disappointed that the Maine Lobstermen's Association announced it is backing away from its commitment to regional measures to reduce the risk of right whale serious injuries and deaths. Posted on 12 Sep
There and back again: A turtle biologist's tale
Part 1 of our journey to recover the 2019 field camps in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Mokumanamana, formerly known as Necker, is actually our second stop of this cruise. We started our surveys yesterday on Nihoa, another massive entity with steep cliffs and a little, protected sandy cove. Posted on 7 Sep
Detecting fish from ocean-going robots
Unmanned wind-powered vehicles go farther for longer to expand our knowledge of the ocean The ocean is vast, and fish swim. These are challenges for scientists who need to find out when, where, and how many, fish are found in Alaska's marine waters. Posted on 31 Aug
Learn about proper marine life viewing guidelines
Irresponsible human behavior can disturb animals, destroy important habitats Watching marine animals in natural habitat can be a positive way to promote conservation and respect for animals and environment. But irresponsible human behavior can disturb animals, destroy important habitats, and result in injury to animals and people. Posted on 30 Aug
What is 1-2-3 Rule used for hurricane avoidance?
During the hurricane season its good to be reminded of the mariner's 1-2-3 Rule The 1-2-3 Rule is means of avoiding winds associated with a tropical cyclone by taking into account the forecast track error of the National Weather Service over a 10 year period which is approximately 100 nm in 24 hours, 200 nm for 48 hours Posted on 30 Aug
NOAA awards $2.7 million for marine debris efforts
Supporting 14 projects to address the harmful effects on wildlife and navigation safety NOAA today announced a total of $2.7 million in grants supporting 14 projects to address the harmful effects of marine debris on wildlife, navigation safety, economic activity, and ecosystem health. Posted on 25 Aug
New mapping reveals lost WC estuary habitat
Report highlights potential for restoration of these important habitats An unprecedented survey has revealed the loss of about 85 percent of historical tidal wetlands in California, Oregon, and Washington. The report, published today in PLOS ONE, also highlights forgotten estuary acreage that might now be targeted Posted on 24 Aug
MBW newsletters (top)