Tag Archives: North Atlantic right whale

Massachusetts fishermen say feds are hypocritical in Gulf of Maine wind energy designation

A move to designate two million acres in the Gulf of Maine as a hub for wind energy is snagging a sharp hook from Massachusetts fishermen who say the development overlooks risks to the North Atlantic right whale. A handful of Bay State fishermen advocacy groups are teaming with counterparts from across New England in criticizing the Biden administration’s plans to industrialize the area off the coasts of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. Fishermen, however, say the industrialization of the two-million-acre area is “flatly inconsistent with a policy of endangered species protection.” “Fishermen are disheartened that the WEA designation favors foreign energy developers over marine mammal protection,” the Gulf of Maine Fishing Associations said in a statement last week. “This preferential treatment is in stark contrast to the federal government’s aggressive campaign to burden commercial fishing needlessly with crushing restrictions to protect whales.” more, >>click to read<< 08:43

Biden administration sued over Virginia offshore wind farm approval

A conservative think tank on Monday sued the Biden administration in an effort to reverse approval of what would be the largest offshore wind farm of its kind. The Heartland Institute filed the suit with the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, a nonprofit that advocates for an economically libertarian approach to environmental action and has denied the existence of human-caused climate change. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks to reverse the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) approval of Dominion Energy’s 176-turbine wind project offshore Virginia. more, >>click to read<< 08:30

Mass. Lobstmen Win Case Fighting Feds’ Fishing Closure

A Massachusetts federal judge ruled Thursday that the National Marine Fisheries Service illegally closed a 200-square-mile swath of ocean to protect the endangered North Atlantic Right Whales, backing a legal challenge by a lobster fishing industry group. In a ruling from the bench, U.S. District Judge William G. Young said the agency’s permanent seasonal closure of the so-called wedge area to lobster fishing in February 2023 to avoid whale entanglements with fishing gear was contrary to a federal budget law passed the previous December that hit pause on new regulations for the lobster industry until the end of 2028. “This court is convinced that the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 is clear on its face, and it clearly applies to bar the final wedge closure rule,” Judge Young said. more, >>click to read<< 12:35

Maine lobstermen will not be scapegoated over right whale

New England fishermen are bracing themselves for another salvo of regulation and activist pressure after the tragic entanglement death of a right whale that washed ashore on Martha’s Vineyard. While the future of our fisheries is uncertain, 2023 showed how much resilience and determination there is in our maritime communities. My organization – the New England Fishermen’s Stewardship Association – and our many partners are prepared to ward off any attempt to scapegoat Maine lobstermen for the declining population of the majestic right whale. Regulators and out-of-state agitators are together impugning one of the most sustainable fisheries in the world for right whale deaths. Their claims are baseless and contradicted by their own data. As agencies and NGOs ponder next steps, they might consider the fighting spirit this last year has showcased among fishermen. more, >>click to read<< by Dustin Delano 12:06

Here’s how activists use lobstermen as bait to endanger Maine industry, communities

Far left activists are exploiting the recent death of an endangered whale to imperil the future of Maine’s iconic lobster fishery. These organizations have poor command of the facts and no knowledge of our industry. Their agitating imperils our fishery and the working communities that depend on it. Organizations like the National Resources Defense Council, the Conservation Law Foundation and others are exploiting this event to pressure regulators to impose new rules. These organizations are restless and can claim some success. A self-styled watchdog called Seafood Watch convinced Whole Foods to stop stocking Maine lobster products late in 2022. 3 Videos, more, >>click to read<< By Dustin Delano 16:12

Maine lobstering gear linked to right whale death for first time

A federal regulatory agency has confirmed that the right whale found dead near Martha’s Vineyard in January had been tangled in Maine lobstering gear. It is the first time Maine gear has been found on a dead right whale, an endangered species. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries announced Wednesday afternoon that the female right whale calf found on Jan. 28 near the island off Cape Cod had been injured by gear that has markings distinct to Maine lobstering operations. The link to Maine fishing gear was confirmed by the Maine Department of Marine Resources. Commissioner Patrick Keliher traveled to Massachusetts with department staff to inspect the gear and arrived at the same conclusion.  more , >>click to read<< 15:37

A treasured industry and an endangered species compete for survival

On a cold morning in January, Chris Welch is already out preparing his boat. This time of year, his days begin before sunrise. It’s a ritual he’s grown accustomed to — at just 35 years old, he’s already spent decades working in the lobster business. “I started lobstering when I was six.” Welch said. Being a lobsterman in Maine is less of a job and more of a lifestyle. It’s a family business for many, including Welch, whose learned the ropes from his grandfather.   But recently, the focus is less on what lobstermen’s ropes are pulling up and more on what may be running into them. Video,  more, >>click to read<< 10:23

Pallone, Environmentalists Want Shipping Speeding Rules Enforced

Is the sonar activity related to offshore wind farms leading to whale deaths? The debate rages on. The Long Branch-based environmental group Clean Ocean Action suspects a possible connection between a spate of at least nine whales being stranded on the beaches of New Jersey and New York in December 2022  and January 2023 and wind farm activity, with COA Executive Director Cindy Zipf saying a moratorium is necessary “until an investigation is completed into why whales and the dolphins have been dying and to make sure it’s nothing to do with the intense amount of offshore wind pre-construction activity. However, other environmental groups, such as the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club, which are supporters of the wind farms and government agencies such as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, say they have found no evidence of whale deaths being linked to offshore wind activity. more, >>click to read<< 14:23

North Atlantic right whale calf found dead off Massachusetts coast

The female calf was found Monday near Edgartown, a town on Martha’s Vineyard. The cause of death is unknown. Kim Elmslie, the campaign director for ocean conservation organization Oceana, said vessel strikes and entanglements are the two most common causes of whale deaths. The calf’s death comes just weeks after a right whale calf was spotted off the coast of South Carolina with serious injuries consistent with a vessel strike. The injured whale was the calf of a 38-year-old right whale named Juno, and experts say it will not likely survive. more. >>click to read<< 08:50

Maine Lobster Industry Faces off against Conservationists over Whale Protections

Maine lobster fishers recently won reprieve on new federal regulations to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whales. According to the Maine’s Lobstermen Association, The regulations could dramatically change lobster fishing practices, impacting fishers and Maine’s island communities who depend upon this resource. In 2023, a federal court ruled in favor of the Center and other groups, finding that NOAA had violated the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act, and was not doing enough to reduce the lobster industry’s threat to right whales. But Maine’s community of lobster fishers are encouraged by the decision. “It gives us time to take a breath,” Steve Train, a commercial lobster fisher from Long Island, Maine, tells Food Tank. “Some people think it might be the end of it all, but I think most people see a little light now that we can work under.” “In the last 25 years, there has been one documented entanglement of a North Atlantic right whale in Maine fishing gear,” Train says. more, >>click to read<< 13:16

Final Incidental Take Regulations for the Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Commercial (CVOW-C) Project, Offshore Virginia

On Monday, January 22, 2024, NOAA Fisheries published the final incidental take regulations related to Dominion Energy’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Commercial (CVOW-C) Project. The effective dates for these regulations are February 5, 2024 through February 4, 2029. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, these regulations will govern the “take” of small numbers of marine mammals exposed to elevated underwater noise generated by the project’s activities over a five-year period. NOAA Fisheries has determined the take that may be authorized under the final rule will have a negligible impact on all affected marine mammal species and stocks. more, >>click to read<< 14:50

Reader Commentary: NOAA cares about whales — until wind farms are involved

Does the left hand know what the right hand is doing? Remember a couple of years ago when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration proposed draconian new speed rules for commercial and recreational vessels up and down the entire Atlantic Coast? This rule attempted to extend to vessels between 35 and 65 feet in length the existing requirement that vessels over 65 feet in length reduce their speed to 10 knots in what is called Seasonal Management Areas along the Atlantic Coast.  Fast forward to now, and we find that NOAA has received a request from U.S. Wind, LLC, for a “letter of authorization for incidental take regulations” (basically killing) of  members of several marine mammal groups over a period of five years (2025-2029) during the construction of the wind farms off the coast of Maryland. By Carol Frazier, more, >>click to read<< 10:16

Judge dismisses lobster lawsuit, U.S.-caught crustaceans remain on

A California judge has dismissed a case filed by local lobstermen who called foul after a seafood watch group put the fishery on a” Red List” for its impact on critically endangered right whales. The California-Based Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Marine Stewardship Council pointed to trap/pot fishing gear used to catch lobsters that has been blamed for the deaths of critically endangered right whales. The “Red List” decision pushed Whole Foods, Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, and others to stop selling the shellfish caught in U.S. waters. In March, four Massachusetts lobstermen, Arthur Sawyer, Jarret Drake, Eric Meschino, and Bill Souza, filed a class action lawsuit saying the conservationists’ move caused monetary harm. But Judge Beth Labson Freeman wrote that they didn’t establish this as a class action lawsuit. more, >>click to read<<  10:43

BOEM Aims to Control Offshore Wind Developments’ Risk to Right Whales

In advance of future offshore wind development in the New York Bight, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is preparing a region-wide environmental impact statement, paving the way for faster federal permitting of each individual project down the road. If built out, the future projects would mean the installation of about 1,100 turbines, 22 offshore substations and 1,600 miles of subsea cable. Without mitigation, BOEM expects the development of six offshore wind farms would have a “major” impact on right whales because of the noise from pile driving, blasting of unexploded ordnance, entanglement in abandoned gear and vessel strikes. North Atlantic right whales are so endangered that each individual death has a substantial impact, and additional losses cannot be absorbed – so BOEM wants to control the risk.  more, >>click to read<< 09:15

9 North Atlantic right whale calves born so far this breeding season

One month into the breeding season for North Atlantic right whales, nine calves have been born. Amy Warren, an assistant researcher at the New England Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life, said she’s crossing her fingers for more births, but that the count at this stage is pretty much on par with previous seasons. “It’s been hard to judge because the trends have shifted a little bit earlier some years, a little bit later some years,” Warren said. “Last year at this time, I believe we had 10 calves. So we’re really not far off from that.” Photos, more, >>click to read<< 09:29

Sixth Right Whale Calf is Sighted

Right whale calf number No. 6 was born off Cumberland Island on Dec. 28, 2023. Halo is a 19-year-old mother of three known calves. Her last calf was born in 2020. Halo has three siblings and five nieces/nephews, all of whom have been entangled on more than one occasion. Halo has callosities behind her blow hole which look as if she wears a halo. Halo’s sister Calamari – #3946 and her son Jagger #5046 both received their names just this year. Halo’s nephew, Kingfisher was entangled eight times in his short life. The last entanglement included a rope around his flipper which persisted until his last sighting in 2015. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Halo is known to enjoy the shoreline of Florida beaches. Halo and her calves have been spotted from shore on many occasions. more, >>click to read<< 06:56

Are right whales big business for nonprofits?

Forget the green economy, the deep blue economy has it beat by a nautical mile. Ever wonder how much money is spent trying to protect the North Atlantic right whale? Ask any of the non-profit corporations that participate in funding to save them.  Here in Maine, at least nine non-profit organizations support right whale conservation efforts, in addition to state agencies and the University of Maine. Nationally, the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium shows 47 environmental organizations it identifies as “partners” on its website. Another 37 environmental groups signed a PEW charitable trust letter to Congress last March, critical of what it believed to be too little funding to protect the species. more, >>click to read<< by Jane Carpenter 08:36

MA Awarded $4.6 Million to Support North Atlantic Right Whale Recovery and Lobster Industry

The Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) will receive more than $4.6 million from a congressional appropriation through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to enhance the division’s nation-leading conservation program for the endangered North Atlantic right whale. DMF will use this funding and an additional $475,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), to bolster development of innovative fishing gear technologies, increase ongoing research and monitoring, and provide fishing gear to lobster industry participants to reduce harm to the right whales. As part of a 5-year program, DMF anticipates receiving more than $23 million from NOAA Fisheries between now and the end of 2028 subject to annual Congressional appropriations. more, >>click to read<< 06:59

The Dead Ocean Effect: NAS study raises concern over offshore wind harming endangered whales

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) released a lengthy report on what is known as the “dead ocean” threat with a focus on the Nantucket region, specifically what are called the Nantucket shoals. This is a major feeding ground of the desperately endangered North Atlantic Right Whale. It is really a good case study for all major offshore wind installations. The report uncovers something strange but true. The physics is technical, but the basic idea is simple. Wind turbines take a lot of the energy out of the air, creating a lower energy wake behind the wind turbine facility. Lower energy wind causes lower energy waves so there is much less mixing in the ocean surface layer. This depletes the oxygen level in the water, which can reduce the amount of living food sources that whales eat, which can harm the whales on a population level. This is why it is called the dead ocean effect. more, >>click to read<< 09:48

Canada’s biggest lobster fishery on notice after Right Whale entanglement in Nova Scotia gear

The entanglement of a North Atlantic right whale in Canadian lobster gear earlier this year will increase scrutiny this season on the lucrative southwestern Nova Scotia lobster fishery. In order to be certified as sustainable, the fishery must now prove its actions will not hinder the recovery of the critically endangered species. “This means the fishery has to demonstrate in collaboration with [the Department of Fisheries and Oceans that it’s going to strengthen its strategy to mitigate impacts on right whales,” says Kurtis Hayne, program director for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in Canada.  To satisfy the conditions, the Lobster Council of Canada, on behalf of industry and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), have developed an action plan to increase overflights in lobster fishing area 33 and increase data collection, says Lobster Council executive director Geoff Irvine. more, >>click to read<< 06:39

Maine lobstermen signal opposition to participating in ropeless testing program

Maine lobstermen are signaling their hesitation to participate in a multimillion-dollar program the state is launching to test new ropeless technology that the federal government soon may require to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale. Lobstermen have been largely unhappy with the regulations, fearing that the regulations will destroy the lobstering industry as they know it. Maine’s congressional delegation succeeded in securing legislative approval for a reprieve that stalls the regulations from going into effect until Jan. 1, 2029. Industry groups also have succeeded in taking NOAA to court, where the regulations are still tied up. Even so, the clock is ticking and the Department of Marine Resources wants to be prepared for what it expects is an inevitable regulation. more, >>click to read<< 06:31

Nantucket’s Rich Are Losing the Battle to Keep Wind Power Out of Their Backyards

A newly erected wind turbine off the coast of the pristine sandy beaches of Nantucket rises about 850 feet from the ocean surface, higher than any building in Boston, spinning blades about 350 feet long. It’s a marvel of human ingenuity, a shot at a carbon-free future — and the scourge of wealthy denizens of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. A raft of lawsuits from residents and fishing industry groups have complained about everything from obstructed views to marine life hazards and disruptions to whales. But the energy company Avangrid completed the first of 62 giant wind turbines last month, promising enough juice to power more than 400,000 homes and business in Massachusetts. >>click to read<< 10:51

Coalition files intent to sue federal agencies to stop whale-killing Virginia wind project 

The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and The Heartland Institute today announced that they were filing with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) a 60 Day Notice of Intent to Sue letter for a violation of the Endangered Species Act. The violation is contained in a defective “biological opinion,” which authorizes the construction of the Virginia Offshore Wind Project (VOW). The 60-day notice is required by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for parties who wish to commence litigation against BOEM for failure to provide adequate protection of the North Atlantic right whale and other endangered species. The North Atlantic right whale is listed as “critically endangered” by the governments of both the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States. >>click to read<< 12:23

New England lobstermen threaten to sue feds over planned Massachusetts fishing closure

NOAA is looking to permanently add a wedge between state and federal waters to an existing closure that stretches roughly 9,000 square miles off the Massachusetts coast, a measure feds have put in place to preserve the North Atlantic right whale. An emergency rule prohibited trap and pot fishery buoy lines on the wedge during the past two years, but the feds are looking to make the zone permanent and have the backing of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. The proposed permanent expansion to the Massachusetts Restricted Area has caught lobstermen by surprise. Dustin Delano, chief operating officer of the New England Fishermen’s Stewardship Association, took exception to the “recklessness” of the proposal after an amendment was included in this year’s $1.7 trillion federal spending bill that looked to delay protections for the North Atlantic right whale by six years. >>click to read<< 11L27

Biden admin’s new rule could put pinch on lobster fishermen while letting others off the hook: critics say

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is planning to enact a new federal rule under the Marine Mammal Protection Act – which would expand an existing restricted area off the coast of Maine where lobster fishing is already banned for three months each year. The move would cut the lobstermen’s’ business by at least 25% of the already declining industry, critics say. The plans come as an attempt to protect the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale, but a group of fishermen say the agency have no data to support the tightening restrictions. They also claim the federal agency is playing favorites by greenlighting offshore wind developments even though recent studies show can be harmful to marine life.  “The federal government treats foreign offshore wind developers much better than lobstermen.  The corporations have official authorization to disturb and displace marine life. Working lobstermen aren’t as lucky as our friends,” Video, >>click to read<< 07:55

North Atlantic right whale population has steadied, scientists say

The population of critically endangered North Atlantic right whales appears to have levelled off after a decade of steep decline, according to updated data released this morning by Canadian and American scientists. Every fall, the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium releases its best population estimate of the world’s most threatened large whale. Scientists in the consortium said Monday that the 2021 estimate of 340 North Atlantic right whales in existence has been recalculated to 365 primarily because of the number of calves born that year. The estimate for 2022 is 356. >>click to read<< 09:52

Judge declaws key part of Massachusetts lobstermen’s libel lawsuit against California aquarium

A federal judge in Louisiana ruled this week there’s no rational reason for Massachusetts lobstermen to sue a California aquarium for libel in Louisiana, which has a law against disparaging seafood, and so ordered the case moved to California, where you’re free to say what you want about harvested sea creatures. Aa group of lobstermen from Gloucester, Marion, North Truro and Plymouth had sued the Monterey Bay Aquarium earlier this year for a press release in which the aquarium said the way lobsters are caught off New England endangers the increasingly rare Atlantic right whale and urged companies and consumers to consider other briny alternatives. >>click to read<< 09:28

Offshore wind isn’t a partisan issue. This is how real NJ people will be impacted

Much has been written and reported about the plans to build offshore wind turbine developments off the East Coast of the United States. Proponents argue that clean energy is better for the environment, more affordable, that in areas where these systems will operate they will generate jobs and that other countries have already installed offshore wind turbines. Opponents argue that the turbine developments will affect the economy of shore communities, commercial and recreational fishing, marine mammals and birds, public safety and national security. Some proponents have even gone so far as to mislabel and attack the opponents of offshore wind as partisan and backed by oil companies, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, the rush to set up offshore wind has been advanced only by partisan politics and internationally backed lobbying efforts without studying the impact these turbines will have in their current planned placement in many cases less than 15 miles from our shores. 12:22 minute video, >click to read< 11:29

Endangered right whale movements ‘totally different’ in Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2023

“What we saw this year was totally different compared to other years,” said Marcel Hebert of the Acadian Crabbers Association in Shippagan, N.B. “The North Atlantic right whale were found in very shallow waters, under 20 fathoms. It’s the first time we saw that since 2017 when we started to watch.” Their first appearance in the Gulf was a disastrous surprise for a species on the brink of extinction and the people who earn their living in those waters. Twenty of the whales died in the Gulf between 2017 and 2019. In Atlantic Canada, a single right whale detection closes a 2,100 square kilometre area of open water for 15 days and in the Gulf for the entire season if they keep showing up or stay. “Let’s be honest, this is hard for harvesters,” Gilchrist said. >click to read< 09:47

Right whale’s decline worse than previously thought, feds say

The North Atlantic right whale numbers less than 350, and it has been declining in population for several years. The federal government declared the whale’s decline an “unusual mortality event,” which means an unexpected and significant die-off, in 2017. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released new data that 114 of the whales have been documented as dead, seriously injured or sub-lethally injured or sick since the start of the mortality event. That is an increase of 16 whales since the previous estimate released earlier this year. The agency recently completed a review of the whales using photographs from researchers and surveys to create the new estimate, said Andrea Gomez, a spokesperson for NOAA.  >click to read< 17:51