Tag Archives: North Atlantic right whales

Snow crab season still on ice, Fishermen remain hopeful of early opening

Despite widespread interest in an early opening date, the president of the P.E.I. Snow Crab Association says weather and ice could dictate when snow crab fishermen in the Gulf of St. Lawrence get on the water. Carter Hutt said there was a desire to have the fishery open by April 20, but he noted there is still a considerable amount of ice in the gulf and the weather hasn’t been co-operating in terms of moving it out. >click to read<11:43

Icebreaker dispatched to Gulf of St. Lawrence to hasten crab season — and save whales

A Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker has been called in to smash through pack ice off the northeast coast of New Brunswick in an unusual bid to help the critically endangered North Atlantic right whales expected to make their way to Canadian waters later this spring. The goal is to allow local snow crab fishermen to complete their season in the Gulf of St. Lawrence earlier than usual, which should reduce the number of ship strikes and entanglements with fishing gear that killed so many whales last year. >click to read<08:14

P.E.I. Lobster fishery reduces floating rope in hopes of protecting North Atlantic right whales

Lobster fishers on P.E.I. are taking new measures this season to help protect the endangered North Atlantic right whales from entanglement. In January, Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced changes to the snow crab fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to protect the right whales, including reducing the amount of rope floating on the surface and mandatory reporting of all lost gear. Fishermen are also required to report any sightings of the endangered whales. >click to read<13:46

LeBlanc and Garneau announce plans for protecting North Atlantic right whales

Federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc and Transport Canada’s Marc Garneau will announce plans this morning for protecting North Atlantic right whales.,, Earlier this year, LeBlanc announced new measures for the operation of the snow crab fishery in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence to protect the North Atlantic right whale from entanglement. The changes include reducing the amount of fishing rope floating on the surface and mandatory reporting of all lost gear. The government also said it will most likely impose speed restrictions for vessels again this year, when the whales return to the gulf. >click to read<09:58

New Brunswick Crab fishermen to test ropeless fishing

New Brunswick snow crab fishermen will test two ropeless trap methods this spring to reduce the use of the fishing rope blamed in the deaths of two North Atlantic right whales last year.,,Mark Baumgartner, of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, said ropeless fishing is the solution to the entanglement problem.,, Robert Haché, director general of the Acadian Crabbers Association, said the fishermen want to do all they can to prevent entanglements.,, The techniques to be tested this season will be from U.S.-based technology and research companies, Haché said. >click to read< 10:13

Fixed Gear Closures – NOAA closes areas to protect whales

As NOAA Fisheries continues to address the rising peril to whales in coastal waters stretching from New England to Florida, it is reminding local fishermen of current or impending gear closures off Massachusetts. The closures, primarily around Cape Cod and in Cape Cod Bay, are part of NOAA Fisheries’ Atlantic large whale take reduction plan developed to provide increased protection to several species of whales — particularly the endangered North Atlantic right whales whose population continues to plummet. Some of the gear closures impact trap and pot fishermen, while other impact gillnetters. >click to read<19:15

Gear is in wrong place for right whales, scientists say

Speaking at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum on Friday,,, The NOAA Fisheries Large Whale Take Reduction Team recently established separate working groups to study two proposals to reduce the risk of entanglement: splicing several 1,700-pound breaking strength “weak link” sleeves into vertical lines such as those that connect lobster buoys to traps; and removing those ropes altogether by requiring the use “ropeless” fishing gear. Those working groups will focus on whether either solution is technologically feasible, whether it will actually work for fishermen, and whether it can be cost effective for fishermen.,, >click to read<10:32

Are North Atlantic Right Whales Becoming Extinct? Experts Warn About Declining Fertility

The North Atlantic right whales may soon become extinct as no new births have been recorded, experts have warned. According to a report in the Guardian, the scientists who observed a whale community off the U.S. coast have not recorded any new births in the right whale population. The report also stated that a huge number of right whale deaths were recorded in 2017. Scientists have, therefore, said that a blend of the rising mortality rate and the declining fertility rate is resulting in the extinction of the right whales. >click to read<10:30 

More changes to snow crab fishery not ruled out – minister wants any changes to be fair across all crab fleets

Government is still weighing its options when it comes to more changes to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales, says federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc. Immediate rule changes to the crab fishery were announced Tuesday to help protect the whales. At least 17 died in Canadian and U.S. waters last year. Some died from being hit by ships and others from entanglements with fishing gear. Another right whale turned up dead Thursday in the waters off the coast of Virginia, the first to be reported this year. >click here to read< 22:38

Fines for violating whale-protecting speed may be inadequate, says fisheries minister

Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc says he was “surprised” by the more than 500 reported speed limit violations in the Gulf of St. Lawrence last year and questions whether penalties should be stiffer to better protect North Atlantic right whales this year. “This is my own view, that a $6,000 fine may not represent an adequate sanction, it may not represent a sufficient deterrent,” said LeBlanc. ,,, As of late last week, only 14 of the 542 cases had resulted in a fine — all of them a minimum of $6,000, Transport Canada officials have said. >click here to read< 11:10

“We’re expecting 100 per cent compliance,” New snow crab fishing rules rein in use of ropes to protect North Atlantic right whales

Fisheries and Oceans Minister Dominic LeBlanc has announced four changes to the snow crab fishery in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence to protect North Atlantic right whales from entanglement, including reducing the amount of rope floating on the surface and mandatory reporting of all lost gear. The new management measures will take effect immediately and will be enforced “very aggressively,” LeBlanc said during the news conference in Moncton on Tuesday. >click here to read<16:29

Lawsuit filed to save North Atlantic Right Whales from death in fishing gear

Today’s lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., alleges that federal management of the American lobster fishery violates the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The lawsuit seeks to force the agency to sufficiently examine the fishery’s impacts on North Atlantic right whales and adopt additional measures to prevent more entanglements in the future. The lobster fishery is the most active fixed-gear fishery in the northeastern United States. >click here to read< 12:08 

EMF (Electromagnetic Field) Effects and the Precautionary Principle – Nils E. Stolpe/FishNet USA

The following is taken from an OSPAR Commission (https://www.ospar.org/) report from 2008. It clearly shows that at the time when interest in offshore wind turbines was really starting to grow there was very little knowledge of, nor had much significant research been done on, the effects of electromagnetic fields on marine or estuarine species, and what little had been done was on mature organisms, with little or no attention given to immature stages. Background Document on potential problems associated with power cables other than those for oil and gas activities: Conclusions in regard to electromagnetic fields Our current knowledge about effects of electromagnetic fields on the marine environment, in particular fauna, is not sufficient. Only a few preliminary conclusions can be reached. click here to read the article 17:07

Officials: Whales, After Deadly Year, Could Become Extinct

Officials with the federal government say it’s time to consider the possibility that endangered right whales could become extinct unless new steps are taken to protect them.,,,  The situation is so dire that American and Canadian regulators need to consider the possibility that the population won’t recover without action soon, said John Bullard, the Northeast Regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries.  click here to read the story 09:39

Feces of entangled North Atlantic right whales show ‘extreme suffering’

A new study offers a glimpse into the state of mind of North Atlantic right whales when they are trapped and dying in fishing gear. By measuring hormone levels in the collected feces of the endangered whales, scientists have determined the animals’ stress levels are “sky-high.” “What it tells us is that there is extreme physical trauma and extreme suffering going on,” said Rosalind Rolland, a senior scientist at the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium and the lead author of the study. click here to read the story 14:14

Changes can be made right now to save right whales, says fisherman

Fishermen in Nova Scotia’s snow crab industry say they are already making some immediate changes to prevent more deaths of North Atlantic right whales. Gordon MacDonald, managing director of the Snow Crab Fishermen’s Association off of southeastern Cape Breton, ​said he and other fishermen are already looking at ways to reduce the amount of slack rope attached to traps during the April-to-August snow crab season. “It’s easy, it’s quick and we can get on it right away and see how that goes and then get into other things.” He said the industry doesn’t need to wait for more study and changes to government regulations. “We can’t wait for that development to start doing things that have a positive impact,” he said. click here to read the story 09:53

NOAA Fisheries Recommends Actions to Help Right Whales

Coming at the end of a devastating summer for right whales, the North Atlantic Right Whale Five-Year Review and its list of recommended actions to promote right whale recovery is particularly timely.,, In July 2016, we initiated this Review, as we do every five years, to make sure that species are accurately listed as “endangered” or “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. Our Five-Year Review is now complete and provides updates on the right whale population in U.S. waters. The Five-Year Review recommends, not surprisingly, that North Atlantic right whales continue to be listed as endangered, and confirms that they experiencing: click here to read the recommendations 13:06

Conservationists plan to sue over right whale deaths

Animal conservation groups say they intend to sue the U.S. government unless North Atlantic right whales are better protected, following the deaths of 15 along U.S. and Canadian coasts. “We are literally facing the extinction of right whales due to human causes,” said Regina Asmutis-Silvia of Whale and Dolphin Conservation North America. In August, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, along with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, declared the deaths of North Atlantic right whales since June 7 an “unusual mortality event,” which triggered a focused and expert investigation into the causes. But the conservation groups want more. click here to read the story 10:01

Enviro Groups Demand U.S., Canada Act to Save North Atlantic Right Whales

Conservation and animal-protection groups today sought action by the United States and Canada to prevent painful, deadly entanglements in fishing gear that threaten the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. In letters to Canadian officials and the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, the groups demanded action to reduce risks to these imperiled whales. North Atlantic right whales, one of the world’s most endangered mammals with fewer than 500 individual animals remaining on Earth, lost nearly 3 percent of their population this year. click here to read the story 14:00

Coast Guard ship fined for going too fast in Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Transport Canada has fined the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir William Alexander $6,000 for going too fast in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The ship allegedly violated the federal government’s 10-knot speed limit that was put in place in August to prevent further deaths of the endangered North Atlantic right whales.​ As of Sept. 16, there’s been 11 right whales confirmed dead in the Gulf. “We take the speed restriction very seriously,” Delphine Denis, a spokesperson for the federal Minister of Transport, said in an email. click here to read the story 16:41

Carcass of a North Atlantic right whale spotted in the Gulf of St. Lawrenceclick here to read the story

Federal fisheries minister says he’ll ensure fishermen leave a ‘minimum amount of rope’ on the water

As federal fisheries officials consider changes in the industry to avert whale deaths, some lobster fishermen are concerned about the potential effect on their livelihood. Last week, Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc said the federal government will bring “absolutely every protection to bear” to prevent further deaths of North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.,,, LeBlanc said he’s mulled changes in fishing gear, including ensuring fishermen leave a “minimum amount of rope” floating on the surface.,,, But some fishermen say longer lines are necessary to make sure balloon and buoy markers, which are connected by rope to the traps, remain on the surface in strong currents. Susan Beaton agrees. Beaton said she’s worried a decision will be made too hastily. click here to read the story 21:51

Two more North Atlantic right whales found dead on Newfoundland’s west coast

Two more dead whales have washed ashore on Newfoundland’s west coast. The federal fisheries department says the discoveries bring the total of confirmed North Atlantic right whale deaths to at least nine. The department says one of the animals had not been counted amongst the previous eight right whale carcasses that have been spotted in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in recent weeks. Officials didn’t immediately say when the carcasses washed ashore. click here to read the story 20:39

DFO closes a gulf fishery early to help protect right whales

Fisheries and Oceans Canada closed part of the snow crab fishery two days early on Wednesday as part of efforts to save the remaining population of North Atlantic right whales. The department announced several steps to protect the whales two days after the death of Joe Howlett, who was killed Monday after freeing a North Atlantic right whale that had been entangled in fishing gear in the Gulf of St. Lawrence near Shippagan, N.B.,,, DFO said it will review fisheries in the area of the gulf where right whales have been showing up in greater numbers, with some encountering danger. click here to read the story 09:33

Preliminary findings of necropsies -Two whales suffered blunt trauma, another killed by fishing gear

Injuries suffered by at least two of six North Atlantic right whales found floating lifeless in the Gulf of St. Lawrence appear to be consistent with ship strikes, marine mammal experts say. Tonya Wimmer of the Marine Animal Response Society said Tuesday that the preliminary findings of necropsies on three of the whales indicate that two of them sustained blunt traumas that caused extensive bruising along their sides and internal hemorrhaging. A third died after becoming snarled in fishing rope that wrapped around one flipper and inside its mouth. click here to read the story ,,,, Whale deaths raise concern – The first dead whale spotted on June 6 was a 10-year-old male who was last seen in Cape Cod Bay on April 23 by the Center for Coastal Studies. The elapsed time between those sightings was only about six weeks. The other identified dead whales included two adult males, at least 17 and 37 years old, and a highly valuable 11-year-old female. Through DNA analysis, two of the males were known to have sired calves. The two remaining unidentified whales were a male and a female. click here to read the story 14:11

DFO concerned by deaths of 5 endangered North Atlantic Right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is working with marine mammal experts, scientists, and fishery officers from across Atlantic Canada to determine what has caused the recent deaths of several rare North Atlantic Right whales in eastern Canada. At least five dead Right whales have been seen recently in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This situation is very concerning. The cause of death is unknown at this time and DFO is committed to finding out what happened to these animals and to protecting this species. DFO is reaching out for assistance from a broad range of expertise from the Marine Animal Response Society, the Canadian Whale Institute and wildlife pathology veterinarians from the Atlantic Veterinary College and the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative to find answers. DFO is also working with partners including Transport Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, the USA’s National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (as this is a cross border issue) and commercial area fishermen. click here to read the press release 09:21

South Shore Lobstermen brace for third year of fishing ban

It’s a classic New England scene, colorful lobster traps stacked up along a dock. But for fishermen in South Shore lobster ports, those grounded traps are a symbol of hard times ahead. Aban that keeps most of their gear out of the water for the winter is entering its third year, despite arguments that it causes them unfair economic hardship. “If it made sense, that would be one thing,” Irvine Nash, a lobsterman for 48 years, said as he stood on a dock in Green Harbor. “But it don’t,” he said. Behind him, fishermen were pulling traps out of the water and loading them on trucks. They will sit empty in yards and garages until May, when the government lifts the ban. Under a recent rule from the National Marine Fisheries Service, all traps from outer Cape Cod to Cape Cod Bay and parts of Massachusetts Bay must be out of the water by Feb. 1. That’s an area just under 3,000 square nautical miles. The federal agency first imposed the ban in 2015, to decrease the likelihood of endangered North Atlantic right whales, which come to Cape Cod Bay every winter, from entangling themselves in lobster lines. Read the story here 08:36

North Atlantic right whales recovery hurt by entanglements, scientists say

North_Atlantic_right_whaleThe ability of an endangered whale species to recover is jeopardized by increasing rates of entanglement in fishing gear and a resultant drop in birth rates, according to scientists who study the animal. The population of North Atlantic right whales has slowly crept up from about 300 in 1992 to about 500 in 2010. But a study that appeared this month in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science said the number of baby right whales born every year has declined by nearly 40 percent since 2010. Study author Scott Kraus, a scientist with the New England Aquarium in Boston who worked on the study, said the whales’ population suffers even when they survive entanglements in fishing gear. Entanglements have surpassed ship strikes as a leading danger to right whales in recent years. Forty-four percent of diagnosed right whale deaths were due to ship strikes and 35 percent were due to entanglements from 1970 to 2009, the study said. From 2010 to 2015, 15 percent of diagnosed deaths were due to ship strikes and 85 percent were due to entanglements, it said. Read the article here 09:10

NOAA Expands Critical Habitat for Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales

Using new information not previously available, NMFS (read the Fed Regmap_1) is expanding critical habitat for endangered North Atlantic right whales to cover its northeast feeding areas in the Gulf of Maine/Georges Bank region and southeast calving grounds from North Carolina to Florida. This final rule, which was initially proposed in February 2015 and received 261 general comments over a 60-day comment period, does not include any new restrictions or management measures for commercial fishing operations. Read the post here 15:41

New Study: Scientists unravel whale entanglement damage

Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have released a new study documenting how much damage entanglements in fishing gear does to North Atlantic right whales — one of the most endangered of all the large whale species. Their migratory routes take them through some of the busiest commercial fishing areas along the East Coast of the United States — including the Gulf of Maine — and into . According to the institution scientists, entanglements with fishing gear represent the leading cause of death for endangered whales. Read the article here, 18:32

New Critical Habitat Proposed for North Atlantic Right Whales

The proposed critical habitat, which you can see in the maps below, greatly expands the previous designation. The key benefit of designating critical habitat is that other Federal agencies are put on notice that they must consult with NOAA Fisheries if they intend to authorize, fund, or carry out an action that may affect right whale critical habitat. This activity does not include any new restrictions for commercial fishing operations or shipping lanes. (yet!) Read the rest here 08:01