Please select your home edition
Edition
Cyclops Marine 2020 - LEADERBOARD

U.S. & Canada must sustain additional efforts to reduce North Atlantic Right Whale mortalities

by NOAA Fisheries 1 Feb 16:15 UTC
A North Atlantic right whale calf swims with its mother off the coast of Florida. © FWC, under NOAA permit #20556-01

A message from NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Chris Oliver, who recently participated in a meeting with Canadian officials focused on the conservation and management efforts for the endangered North Atlantic right whale.

Last Friday, we met once again with Canadian officials to continue our bilateral focus on the conservation and protection of North Atlantic right whales. The United States and Canada have a shared interest in recovering right whales, and it is critical for both countries to take and sustain additional efforts to reduce right whale mortalities and serious injuries. As most people know by now, maintaining the protection and conservation of these critically endangered whales is especially important given the reduced rate of calving, the rapid decline in the population in just a few years, and the evidence of a continued high rate of mortality.

Officials from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Transport Canada joined me, Sam Rauch, our agency's Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, and Mike Pentony, our Regional Administrator for the Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office for this meeting in Ottawa. The format was similar to the meeting we had with the Canadians last August, when both countries agreed to redouble efforts to share innovative techniques and solutions that foster healthy fisheries, reduce the risk of entanglements, and create whale-safe shipping practices.

What we focused on in these discussions were our near-term commitments, including:

  • Entanglement risk reduction in Northeast trap/pot gear to reduce serious injury and mortality to less than one per year.
  • Analyzing alternatives that reduce the number of lines and the strength of the line and, possibly, new seasonal closed areas.
  • Continuing discussions of additional measures both countries can take throughout the species' range to further reduce risks.

We emphasized that NOAA, the coastal states and U.S. fishermen have been involved in mitigating commercial fisheries interactions with Atlantic large whales for over twenty years, and we will continue to do that. We dove deep into each of the points above, especially our effort to develop measures to reduce the risk to right whales from entanglements in trap/pot fisheries—with a target of 60 percent reduction based on the near-consensus recommendations from the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team—to get to a sustainable level of less than one seriously injured or killed right whale a year by entanglement. We urged Canada to develop a similar goal and appropriate risk reduction measures to achieve it.

It is critical that both the United States and Canada implement sustainable, long-term measures to turn the population trajectory of right whales upward and recover this species. I left these most recent discussions feeling positive about the effect of these bilateral efforts in achieving our shared goals of conserving and restoring this species. The U.S. industry, especially the commercial fishing industry, cannot carry the full burden of these efforts. It has to be a shared responsibility. Our partners and stakeholders continue to look to the U.S. and Canadian governments to save this critically endangered species, and we need to deliver.

Related Articles

What is nearshore habitat?
Restoration focuses on valuable shoreline habitat where juvenile fish grow There is an especially valuable environment in Puget Sound made up of the beaches, bluffs, inlets, and river deltas: the nearshore. Posted on 28 Jun
Returning rescued sea turtles to the wild
Learn about the operations that go into rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing protected sea turtles We work with organizations along the Atlantic coast to help rescue and rehabilitate protected animals such as sea turtles. A successful rescue takes months of work and coordination between many partners. Posted on 27 Jun
Twentymile river whale update
It lingered in the river for more than a week The gray whale that was first reported in Twentymile River near Girdwood, Alaska on Memorial Day has likely died. It had lingered in the river for more than a week before swimming back into Turnagain Arm. Posted on 27 Jun
Celebrating sea turtle conservation
Conserving and protecting sea turtles is a part of our core mission at NOAA Fisheries NOAA Fisheries is committed to the protection, conservation, and recovery of sea turtles. We conduct research to inform conservation management actions and we work closely with our partners to advance conservation and recovery of these amazing animals. Posted on 22 Jun
Large whale entanglements report confirmed in US
More than 100 large whale entanglements were confirmed nationally in 2018 Many large whale populations are increasing in the United States, but entanglements in fishing gear or marine debris are a growing threat to the continued welfare and recovery of these species. Posted on 20 Jun
Autonomous vehicles help scientists estimate fish
An innovative scientific approach to survey Alaska pollock this year Scientists are capitalizing on existing technological capabilities and partnerships to collect fisheries data. This will help fill the information gap resulting from the cancellation of FY20 ship-based surveys due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Posted on 5 Jun
Newly weaned seal pup needs community help
NOAA and partners are requesting beach goers and ocean users keep their distance A recently weaned female Hawaiian monk seal pup has been resting along the shoreline and swimming in the waters along O'ahu's Kaiwi Coastline. She has appeared near some busy beach areas and hauled out in areas with a lot of vehicle activity on the beach. Posted on 30 May
Researchers probe orca poop for microplastics
What are microplastics and why are researchers looking for them in whale feces? You might worry about your toddler chewing on a plastic toy with toxic chemicals. Some orca researchers are beginning to worry about whales ingesting a gut full of microplastics, and what that might mean for their health. Posted on 29 May
Busy Atlantic hurricane season is expected
Multiple climate factors indicate above-normal activity is most likely An above-normal 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is expected, according to forecasters with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. Posted on 24 May
Team frees entangled humpback whale
Multiple sets of fishing gear were so heavy, they 'anchored the whale in place' A trained response team on Monday freed a humpback whale in Monterey Bay. It had become so severely entangled and weighed down by commercial dungeness crab fishing gear that it could not move. Posted on 23 May
North Sails 2019 - NSVictoryList - FooterMarine Resources 2019 - FooterGrapefruit Graphics 2019 - Footer