The Judge has ruled! NMFS must list the North Atlantic Right Whale entanglement facts on paper. Case Closed!

Judge Boasberg has ruled! A new accurate Endangered Species Act analysis has been ordered by next June. The National Marine Fisheries Service just needs to put the lobster entanglement facts on paper and it’s “Case Closed”

Not only was there an unusual mortality event in the Gulf of St Lawrence.  The Right Whales stopped reproducing. Basically the whales moved up into the South West Gulf of Saint Lawrence in 2015 and took the crab fishermen by surprise and also they set up feeding on copious copepods at the mouth of the St Lawrence River where the Spring flood of nutrients kicks off phytoplankton blooms.

Unfortunately this is directly under a shipping lane used solely by cruise ships who traveled at night starting at the end of April. Port records and ship tracking apps clearly show they were the only ships operating where 95% of the whales were killed. They were all Holland America Cruise Line Ships out of Boston, and Carnival Cruise Lines.

It has become obvious that we have been barking up the wrong tree based on the few horrible photographs of entangled whales. Please look at these past facts that has had the North Atlantic Right Whale on the road to extinction.

In the order of negatives:

1)Birthrate. 0 in 2018 for the first time.

2)Carnival Cruise. 18+ in last 5 years

3)Canadian Crab. 8 in the past 5 years.

4)Other Ship Strikes. 2-3 per year?

5)Canadian and US Lobstering ¼ whale per year for over twenty years.

6) Maine lobstering 0 for twenty years

This year. Big changes; Canadian Crab entanglements, Cruise ship strikes and birthrate!

1)Birthrate, 10 and on the rise!

2)Carnival Cruise 0, Covid-19

3)Canadian Crab 0, (Effective spot closures)

4)Other Ship Strikes 2, south of Cape Cod

5&6) Lobstering 0, Me, Mass, and Canada.

Some of the reasoning:

1)Birth rate, We don’t know why the birthrate hit 0 but Gulf of Mexico oil spill chemicals were detected as far north as N Carolina, coincidently at the beginning of the decline in birthrate.

2)Cruise Ships, put out of business by Covid-19

3)Canadian Crab, Under excellent whale watch surveillance and using spot closures where whales are locating.  Which has basically been in the same location, the SW corner of the GSL, since 2015 when the whales relocated up to the mouth of the St Lawrence from the Bay of Fundy.

4)Other Ship Strikes, Less now than 10 years ago since new ship speed reduction zones were put in place in the US.

5&6)Canadian and US lobstering were never a threat to the species.

Always within an acceptable accidental take.

This year the North Atlantic Right Whales are once again multiplying.

Allowing Cruise Ships to sail through the Gulf St. Lawrence feeding area will be the biggest future anthropogenic cause for concern.

Case closed! The North Atlantic Right Whale population increased this year by 7-8. They could increase by 20 next year. They had as many as 39 births just ten years ago in 2009.

Further reading

http://fisherynation.com/archives/tag/jim-oconnell

Department of Marine Resources: Commissioner Pat Keliher Discusses Top Marine Resources Issues

Please listen to this 5 min of audio.

Confirmation of the data from the radio talk show MPBN Maine Calling Jan 8 2020

A conversation with Pat Keliher, commissioner of the Department of Marine Resources
Advance tape to 25:25 and listen to Pat’s reply on the cruise Ship situation.  Pat was in the courtroom arguing for the lobstermen.  He was in the room where it happened  >click to listen<

 

Jim O’Connell

Independent Investigative Research

Bar Harbor Maine

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