Tag Archives: North Atlantic right whale

Fishing area closed after North Atlantic right whale sighting set to reopen this week

A lucrative lobster fishing area in the Maritimes is set to reopen this week after a sighting of North Atlantic right whales shuttered the fishery just weeks into the spring season. The endangered whales were spotted earlier this month in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, northeast of Prince Edward Island’s Malpeque and Cascumpec Bays. The sighting triggered a 15-day closure of popular lobster fishing grounds — part of Lobster Fishing Area 24. The federal Fisheries Department says the fishing area is set to reopen Friday. But it says two surveillance flights are required before the area reopens to fish harvesters to determine whether whales are still present.   >click to read< 13:32

‘Aggravation’ expected when part of lobster fishing area closes

Chris Wall is among those being asked by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to remove all their gear from a portion of lobster fishing area 24 before it closes on Tuesday at 5 p.m. due to the confirmed sighting of a North Atlantic right whale. “It will affect the bottom line because I think you’re going to find more people in a smaller area trying to catch the same amount of lobsters,” Wall said. “So … it will affect everybody. It’s just going to cause some aggravation, for sure.” Wall isn’t aware of any right whale ever getting caught in lobster fishing gear on P.E.I., he said. >click to read< 08:56

Right whale sighting shuts down lobster fishing section for at least 15 days

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is asking lobster fishers to remove all gear in a portion of Lobster Fishing Area 24 within the next 96 hours due to the confirmed sighting of a North Atlantic right whale. The whale was at the 10 and 20 fathom line in LFA 24 off the Island’s northern coast, the P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association said in a release. Charlie McGeoghegan, chair of the P.E.I. Lobster Marketing Board, said the early closure is “very disappointing.”  “It’s the heart of our season.” >click to read< 11:36

Maine: Fishing industry forum May 24

Our way of life up and down the Maine coast is under attack. Families that have made their living in the lobster industry for generations are on the road to extinction. If the federal government has their way, pending regulations will force the lobster industry out of business and the Gulf of Maine will be reserved for offshore wind. The Lincoln County Republicans are hosting an event on May 24 where the public can hear, firsthand, from three prominent men in the Maine fishing industry – Representative Billy Bob Faulkingham, Dustin Delano and Jason Joyce. The event will be held at Coastal Christian School, 574 N. Nobleboro Road, Waldoboro. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. >click to read< 15:52

Hope vs. rope: Can technology save the whales, and Maine’s lobster industry, too?

Along the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, scientists, engineers, and fishermen are working feverishly to develop a new, high-tech way to harvest lobster – and the result could be the key to the survival of both the U.S. lobster fishery and the imperiled North Atlantic right whale. But farther north in Maine, the epicenter of the fishery, it’s unusually quiet. Only one Maine business is working on the technology, and only a handful of Maine lobstermen will test it. Many won’t even discuss it. The ropeless part is being worked out, but another critical component – an interoperable, open platform to track gear – is far from ready. The new equipment also is, at least for now, prohibitively expensive. One lobsterman said it would cost him nearly $500,000 upfront. >click to read< 16:20

NOAA proposes hammering 208% of vanishing Right Whales

Okay it is a trick headline because they can only hammer 100% of the severely endangered North Atlantic Right Whale population. The point is that NOAA is proposing, for offshore wind development, to authorize a horrific 706 cases of physical harassment of Right Whales, whose dwindling population is down to just 340 magnificent critters. The average whale will get hammered roughly twice. The Right Whales migrate along the coast twice a year. Migration requires repeatedly running a gauntlet of dangerous offshore wind projects. Most likely some whales will be hit many times. The harassment numbers for each proposed project are listed below. Read the take numbers and weep for the whales. >click to read< by David Wojick, Ph.D., 09:30

Under pressure, Maine lobstermen could get funding to test new gear that could safeguard whales and their livelihoods

Senate Majority Leader Eloise Vitelli (D-Arrowsic) is sponsoring LD 1552, which would set aside $1 million a year for the next two years to provide stipends to lobstermen to test new lobster gear. “Over the past several years many fishermen have come to terms with the fact that some level of innovation will be needed to ensure the future of the fishery.” A move by the state’s congressional delegation late last year delayed implementation of additional regulations for six years, buying the industry time to “develop new fishing gear technologies,” Patrice McCarron, policy director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, wrote to the committee. Studies are looking at whether ropeless technology can be used, but McCarron doesn’t believe that’s the answer. >click to read< 15:29

‘Enough is enough’: Midcoast lobsterman decries regulations to protect whales

Jason Lord, a second-generation Midcoast said he understands the effort to save critically endangered North Atlantic right whales. The problem, he contends, is lawmakers, government agencies and conservation groups have it wrong by targeting the Maine lobster industry, which has been forced to use breakaway trap lines and observe a seasonal no-fishing zone to protect the whales. “I’ve never seen a right whale off the coast of Maine,” said Lord, 50, who has been in the industry for 30 years. An Arizona congressman recently proposed a bill that could lead to further regulations like ropeless lobster traps. Last week, Maine Lobstering Union Local 207 Executive Liaison and Political Director Virginia Olsen testified against the bill on Capitol Hill. >click to read< 18:23

‘License To Kill’ Whales, Dolphins Handed to Offshore Wind Power Companies in Biden’s Green Energy Push

Greenpeace launched its “Save the Whales” campaign on April 27, 1975. But in the ensuing years, Greenpeace has gone full Orwell. Greenpeace is no longer interested in saving the whales. It may actually be aiding and abetting the Biden administration and the offshore wind industry in killing whales supposedly to “save the planet.” The deaths are coincident, however, with an increase in activity by the offshore wind industry as it surveys locations to erect its turbines.  As it turns out, the federal agency has actually issued permits to the offshore wind industry to kill whales, dolphins and even seals. And not just one or two members of the species. >click to read< 09:11

The Case: Defamation suit marks shift in fight over lobstering – MLA says Seafood Watch assessment intentionally misstates facts

A University of Maine Law School professor says it’s unlikely a judge or jury will actually settle the science around lobstering’s impact on North Atlantic right whale mortality in a recently filed defamation lawsuit against Seafood Watch and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation. Instead, Dmitry Bam explained, the case—if it ever reaches trial—will probably turn on whether the aquarium’s seafood sustainability program was negligent or reckless about the evidence it actually used to claim that scientific data demonstrate that lobstering harms the endangered whale species. Last fall, Seafood Watch put American lobsters on its red list of foods to avoid because it “is caught or farmed in ways that have a high risk of causing harm to wildlife or the environment.” >click to read< 11:45

Monterey Bay Aquarium In Hot Water Over Alleged Defamatory Statements About Maine Lobster Industry

The aquarium’s Seafood Watch program assigns ratings to varieties of seafood based on environmental impact and sustainability. In September of 2022, Seafood Watch published a “red” rating for lobster caught in certain Canadian and U.S. fisheries. Seafood Watch’s current red, “avoid” rating instructs the public to “take a pass on these for now. They’re caught or farmed in ways that harm marine life or the environment.” The aquarium’s rating, allegedly based on “all scientific data,” claimed that lobster fishing practices in the stated region (specifically, pot, trap and gillnet fisheries) pose “significant risks of entanglement” to North Atlantic right whales and that the fisheries are putting the species “at risk of extinction” and therefore could not be considered “sustainable.” The Gulf of Maine is the center of the U.S. lobster industry.  >click to read< 09:12

On Demand Gear – Cape Cod Lobstermen Would Rather Wait Than Switch

21-year-old North Atlantic right whale known as Porcia was observed in Cape Cod Bay on March 18. The whale was seen swimming with her 2023 calf by her side. That means Cape Cod lobstermen are on land, waiting out the whales. Elsewhere in Massachusetts waters, however, the NOAA is running an experiment that gives lobster fishermen exempted fishing permits to work in areas that are otherwise restricted. What they are testing is something called on-demand fishing gear. “I think it’s a Star Wars idea that will not work,” said Dana Pazolt, a Truro-based lobsterman who sets his traps on the bay side in the fall and on the ocean side in the spring and summer. Pazolt’s 800 lobster traps have 50 miles of rope. >click to read< 11:10

Faulkingham Pitches $1,000,000 State Contribution to Lobster Legal Defense Fund

A public hearing will be held Thursday to discuss a bill aimed at providing financial support to the Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA), a group that represents Maine’s lobster industry. The bill, proposed by House Minority Leader Billy Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor), would provide the MLA with a one-time contribution of $1,000,000 to offset large expenses the organization has incurred in recent years as it fights against burdensome federal regulations. Faulkingham expressed his concern for the Maine lobster industry, which he says is “under attack” and facing potentially devastating regulations and lawsuits. >click to read< 08:57

Blue-collar lobstermen sue environmental group for defamation: ‘The harm is intentional’

A coalition of lobster businesses and industry groups from Maine filed a federal lawsuit this week, accusing a powerful environmental group that doles out “sustainability” ratings of defamation. The coalition, led by the Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA), argued that the California-based Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation has made defamatory statements about Maine lobster fishing practices, misleading consumers and commercial lobster buyers about the state’s lobster harvest, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in the U.S. District Court in Maine. “This harm is intentional: The Aquarium told businesses and consumers to ‘avoid’ and ‘take a pass’ on purchasing Maine-caught lobster and lobster products on the basis of its false statements,” the lawsuit stated. Video, >click to read< 08:58

Maine Lobster Fishery Sues Monterey Bay Aquarium, Claims Attack on Maine Lobster Fishing Practices Is Defamatory

Maine lobster businesses and industry trade associations today filed a federal lawsuit against the Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation (the “Aquarium”) for making false and defamatory statements about Maine lobster fishing practices and for misleading consumers and commercial lobster buyers about the integrity of the Maine lobster harvest.  The lawsuit challenges the Aquarium’s claims that “scientific data” show that Maine lobster fishing practices are responsible for harming North Atlantic right whales.  The lawsuit asserts that the Aquarium’s claims are in fact not supported by science, and that the Aquarium’s false statements have caused substantial economic harm to plaintiffs, as well as to the Maine lobster brand and to Maine’s long-standing reputation for a pristine coastal environment protected by a multi-generational tradition of preserving resources for the future. Plaintiffs include Bean Maine Lobster Inc., the Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA), the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, Atwood Lobster LLC, and Bug Catcher Inc., owned by sixth-generation fisherman Gerry Cushman of Port Clyde. To continue, >click to read< 12:57

Fed Official: Offshore Wind Will Adversely Impact North Atlantic Right Whale

Ahead of his March 16 hearing on offshore wind at the Wildwood Convention Center, Congressman Jeff Van Drew is challenging the federal government and offshore wind companies to prove they have nothing to hide when it comes to negatively impacting the environment. “Hearings are critical,” he said in a statement released last week condemning President Joe Biden’s administration for “its continual lack of transparency with the American people – this time about the correlation of offshore wind development and the death of endangered whales.” Van Drew’s latest comments follow the release of a May 13, 2022 missive from Sean Hayes, chief of protected species for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service. In the letter to Brian Hooker, lead biologist for Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Office of Renewable Energy Programs, Hayes laid out how offshore wind development in New England would negatively affect the North Atlantic right whale. >click to read< 08:04

The Whale slaughter continues, but is this just the beginning? By Jim Lovgren

Another Humpback Whale washed ashore on a New Jersey beach on March 1st , the 12th known Whale to die since the start of December, along the New York, New Jersey shoreline, coincident with multiple research vessels using active Sonar, seismic Pingers, and Ultra High Resolution Seismic sparkers. As more research vessels ply our waters, more dead Whales wash up on the beach. This is just the start of the gigantic ecosystem changing industrialization of the US continental shelf from the Gulf of Maine to Florida. We now have 23 dead Whales on the east coast within a three month period, and despite what government officials claim, it is not a normal amount. >click to read< 07:55

Maine delegation to fight bill that would repeal ‘pause’ in lobstering regulations

When Congress passed a law in December that included a six-year reprieve from new federal regulations for the lobster industry, the fishery heaved a sigh of relief. But if a new bill introduced this week in the House of Representatives is approved, that relief would be short-lived. Maine’s congressional delegation says they are committed to ensuring that doesn’t happen. On Monday, Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona, introduced The Restoring Effective Science-based Conservation Under Environmental Laws Protecting Whales Act, or the RESCUE Whales Act. If passed, the bill would repeal the protections for the lobster fishery that were included in the 2022 federal omnibus spending law. The omnibus poses an “existential threat” to the North Atlantic right whale, undermines the science-based protections of both the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and ignores possible solutions like “ropeless gear,” Grijalva said in a statement. >click to read< 11:31

NOAA and BOEM; Ignorance is Bliss. By Jim Lovgren

For about twenty years the Natural Resources Defense Council [NRDC] engaged the US Navy in a legal battle over the effects of the Navy’s use of Mid Frequency Sonar in training exercises and its impact on marine mammals and other creatures, with one case even reaching the US Supreme court. While there are many different aspects of NRDC’s legal actions, the results of the litigation have produced an enormous amount of scientific data and research regarding the effects of underwater sound on marine creatures, with an emphasis on Sonar and marine mammals. They forced the Navy to admit that their use of sonar had resulted in the unintentional mass strandings of many different marine Mammals in a dozen different instances around the world, primarily involving Beaked whales, that are classified as being low to mid frequency cetaceans. >click to read< 08:48

Government Grants Wind Industry Licence to Kill Critically Endangered North Atlantic Right Whale

The collapse in Atlantic Right Whale numbers runs in parallel with the increase in the number of offshore wind turbines planted into their (once) natural environment: numbers declined from 480 to 340 whales between 2010 and 2022. But, rather than putting a halt to the imminent and complete destruction of a charismatic seaborne mammal, the US government has given the wind industry a license to kill; known in the trade as an ‘Incidental Harassment Authorization’. Where ‘harassment’ means doing whatever is necessary to construct and operate giant industrial wind turbines offshore, up to and including killing whales in the process, and doing so with complete impunity. To equate the wind industry with ‘environmentalism’ is a first-order error. But to grant them a state-sanctioned licence to destroy marine environments – along with the rare and endangered species that environment supports, is flat out criminal. >click to read< 14:56

Federal court hears arguments from Maine lobstermen appealing right whale regulations

A federal appeals court heard arguments Friday from the Maine Lobstermen’s Association, which is challenging a government plan to regulate the fishery and conserve endangered right whales. The Maine Lobstermen’s Association had promised to take its latest appeal of federal fishing regulations all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary. But lobstermen hope they’ll avoid that prospect, especially with Paul Clement, an attorney with more than 100 past Supreme Court appearances, representing Maine. >click to read< 07:22

Maine’s oldest town, Kittery, rallying around state’s lobster industry

As Maine’s iconic lobster industry faces challenges to its very survival, the state’s oldest town is rallying behind the men and women fighting for their livelihood. Recent efforts by the state’s small but formidable congressional delegation and Gov. Janet Mills resulted in a six-year hold on new rules to allow time for new research to be considered. “This is one of the most perilous moments ever faced by Maine’s lobster industry,” Kevin Kelley of the Maine Lobsterman’s Association said recently, “but the six-year regulatory pause gives the industry a little bit of time and some hope that whatever rules are implemented by the federal government make sense.” >click to read< 12:19

Whale deaths exploited in ‘cynical disinformation’ push against wind power, advocates say

Efforts to stop wind turbines off the Atlantic coast have a new mascot: the whale. A dozen New Jersey beach town mayors and several other groups now argue offshore wind power activity could be the cause of recent whale deaths and wind projects must be stopped while scientists investigate. But those most vocal about their concern have been silent in recent years as whale strandings surged along the East Coast. Wind energy supporters and whale advocates say these groups and politicians appear to be using whales as pawns. >click to read<   10:17

2 whales found dead along Atlantic Coast were likely hit by boats, NOAA says.

Necropsies on two whales found dead along the Atlantic coast this week revealed that both marine mammals showed evidence of vessel strikes. Both whales, a critically endangered North Atlantic right whale and a humpback, were already beginning to decompose, but preliminary results show internal injuries consistent with the blunt force trauma of a vessel strike, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday. The deaths are among a flurry of 21 whale deaths along the length of the Atlantic coast since Dec. 3. >click to read< 09:20

Right whale found entangled in Canadian lobster fishing gear in U.S. waters

A right whale found entangled in lobster fishing gear in waters off the southern United States was disentangled by U.S. marine mammal rescue responders last weekend. An investigation by U.S. officials and Fisheries and Oceans Canada has determined the gear was from Lobster Fishing Area 33 in Southern Nova Scotia, according to a DFO release. The adult whale is identified officially as North Atlantic right whale 1218 and known as Argo. According to the release, it is the first entanglement connected to Canada’s lobster fishery in five years. The release said the harvester reported the lost gear to DFO. >click to read< 17:58

MLA back in court this month over federal lobstering rules

The Maine Lobstermen’s Association continues its court fight against the National Marine Fisheries Service, challenging its biological opinion for the endangered right whale, released in May 2021, and the science used to inform it. The MLA lost its original lawsuit in Sept. 2022 but was granted the right to appeal. Oral arguments are scheduled for Feb. 24 in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia. The Maine Department of Marine Resources and the Maine Lobstering Union Lodge 207, the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, are intervenors in the case. “[The six-year delay] just really amplifies the concerns that the MLA has had,” MLA executive director Patrice McCarron said. “It highlights and exemplifies the importance of the work we’ve done and the importance of letting the lawsuit run its course.” >click to read< 09:23

Whale deaths in NC and along the East Coast have officials searching for answers

On Jan. 7, a critically endangered North Atlantic right whale calf was found dead, wedged under a pier in Morehead City. In the previous month, three humpback whales washed up on beaches between Beaufort and the northern Outer Banks. The four North Carolina deaths are part of at least 14 whales that have washed up on East Coast beaches since Dec. 1. Federal officials, scientists and conservation groups have said there could be multiple factors contributing to the rise in whale strandings, including an increase in the population of the Western North Atlantic humpback whales. But one idea that’s gained traction online and among some coastal residents and politicians is that huge offshore wind farms planned off many East Coast states, including North Carolina, could be harming the marine mammals. >click to read< 08:46

Maine lobster industry must accept that ‘big changes are coming’ despite delay in federal rules, commissioner says

“The work now is critical,” DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher told the Lobster Advisory Council Wednesday. “The buy-in is critical. The data we’re going to be collecting over the next four years is critical. We can’t have infighting. We have to accept big changes are coming. ”Those changes could include additional regulations to make ropes weaker, a move toward ropeless lobster traps and additional restrictions on fishing grounds. Between now and then, the industry needs to report its harvest to federal officials, participate in a vessel tracking program and find ways to help monitor where endangered whales are migrating, Keliher said. >click to read< 08:49

Maine wants to transform how the US manages the lobster fishery.

Patrick Keliher, Maine’s Department of Marine Resources commissioner, has argued that the fishery needs more “tools in the toolbox.” Now, with the most time he’s had in recent memory to sit down and craft new measures, he is hoping that the dawn of “dynamic management” in Maine is here. What is dynamic management? In theory, it’s a simple strategy to keep fishermen fishing, while also making way for whales. The Gulf of Maine would be monitored, with listening devices in the water and planes in the sky, for right whales. If signs of right whales are detected, fishermen would have to clear their traps out of the area. Dynamic management has been pitched by Maine before, and a version of it is being used in parts of the Canadian snow crab fishery.  >click to read< 14:35

P.E.I. fishermen welcome extension on deadline for gear to protect whales

Some members of the P.E.I. fishing community are welcoming DFO’s decision to extend the deadline for break-free fishing gear until 2024. This is when fishers will be required to use gear designed to break under 1,700 pounds to help species like the endangered North Atlantic right whale escape during an entanglement. “I mean, we’re certainly happy to see it extended,” said Marvin Jollymore, a lobster and eel fisher from New London, P.E.I.  “There’s so many questions as to, you know, how long does [the gear] last? You put it in, does it last one season? Does it last two seasons, does it last forever? Is it only good for half a season?” >click to read< 07:59