Tag Archives: North Atlantic right whales

Crab fishing season off to early start on the Acadian Peninsula

New Brunswick’s snow crab fishers have begun their season. At the wharf in Shippagan, boats prepared to take to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence late Friday despite frigid temperatures and the presence of ice in some places. The season officially began at midnight. For Capt. Renald Guignard, it marked the continuation of a family tradition. The Acadian Peninsula received help from icebreakers from the Canadian Coast Guard and contracted boats to allow access to the waters before endangered North Atlantic right whales arrive. >click to read< 17:30

Icebreakers are clearing the way for early Snow crab season with less risk for right whales

New Brunswick’s lucrative snow crab industry is just weeks away from a head start to the season, could result in higher revenue and less risk for North Atlantic right whales. Icebreakers from the Canadian Coast Guard and contracted boats began clearing the waters near Shippagan and Caraquet on the Acadian Peninsula over the weekend. Gilles Thériault, who lives in Tracadie, said fishermen are thankful for the icebreakers. “The quicker we catch our quota, the less danger there is of whales being trapped into ropes,” he said. “We hope that the vast majority of the quota will be caught before the whales arrive.” >click to read< 15:43

Ropeless fishing gear: Georgia researchers work with commercial fishermen to test equipment

NOAA has identified two areas critical for right whales: off the coast of New England, where the whales forage for food in warmer months; and off the southeast coast from North Carolina to Florida, where the whales reproduce between November and April. Fluech is collaborating with Kim Sawicki, project lead and doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts,, In summer 2020, the research team secured a permit from the National Marine Fisheries Service to test eight different ropeless gear systems with black sea bass pots off the coast of Georgia. It was the first time the ropeless gear had been tested in the South Atlantic. >click to read< 08:37

Maine Gov. Janet Mills expresses ‘grave concern’ over plans to protect North Atlantic right whales

“The survival of Maine’s iconic lobster fishery, and in fact, our heritage, through the future of Maine’s independent lobstermen and women, depend on your willingness to act,” Mills wrote in a letter filed with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration on Feb. 19. Mills called on NOAA to develop “practical solutions” that protect right whales but allow fishing to continue.,,, Two public hearings to consider amendments to NOAA’s Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan. Those virtual hearings will be held Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. for southern Maine and Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. for northern Maine. Both will last about two hours and require pre registration https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4167147282087010060. Anyone unable to participate in the virtual hearings can submit comments to NOAA by March 1. >click to read< 09:54

Canada outlines its 2021 measures to protect North Atlantic right whales

The Government of Canada remains committed to protecting the endangered North Atlantic right whale. To help prevent entanglements with fishing gear, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is building on last year’s successful measures by continuing to close fishing areas wherever and whenever North Atlantic right whales are present in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Bay of Fundy, and Roseway Basin Critical Habitat,,, To help prevent collisions with vessels, Transport Canada will be re-implementing its 2020 season measures, including a restriction on vessel speed throughout much of the Gulf of St. Lawrence to protect areas where whales are detected,,, >click to read< 17:06

Richard “Max” Strahan ‘Man in Final Legal Effort to Protect Whales

Strahan seeks a court order to prevent the state from licensing vertical buoy ropes and to make Massachusetts revoke all existing licenses. The ropes connect traps and pots under water to buoys on the surface so lobstermen can more easily find their catch.,,, Strahan distinctly remembers his first case, Strahan v. Coxe, which he frequently cites. The U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts said in that 1996 opinion that gillnets and lobster gear have harmed endangered whales “and are likely to continue doing so.”(But he never mentioned ship strikes!) >click to read< 10:12

Canada orders temporary fishery closure in the Roseway Basin after detecting North Atlantic right whales

The latest order, issued Monday, closes several fisheries until further notice and could affect the lucrative commercial lobster fishery when the season opens next week.,, Since Nov. 9, acoustic sensors on board a marine glider cruising the area made 11 separate right whale detections.,,, Whales behavior is not understood. Because of a forecast for bad weather, fishermen have been given until Thursday to remove gear from parts of the Roseway Basin where the whales were most recently detected. The implications for the lobster fishery are potentially dramatic. Lobster Fishing Areas 33 and 34 from Halifax to Digby are the most valuable in Canada. >click to read< 07:24

A Greek tragedy? New England lobsters caught in perfect storm of warming seas and save the whales activism

Climate change, ocean acidification,,, it’s nothing compared to what will become of the industry if the self-coronated “Prince of Whales,” New Hampshire’s Richard “Max” Strahan, has his way. To lobstermen, though, Strahan has proven himself far more than a vaudevillian nuisance. The kicker, says Strahan, who gets more animated as our conversation goes on, is that the whales are pretty much doomed no matter what. In 2017, the North Atlantic right whale population didn’t reproduce at all, usually considered the death knell for an endangered species. In late June, a six-month-old right whale calf was found dead with propeller wounds off the coast of New Jersey. Lobstering had nothing to do with it, but it won’t help the industry’s case. “It’s not really that they’re being caught in fishing gear,” Strahan admits. “It’s the fact that they don’t reproduce anymore. That’s what’s killing them.” >click to read< 08:07

North Atlantic right whale – from Endangered to Critically Endangered

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced Thursday it has changed the status of North Atlantic right whales on its Red List from endangered to critically endangered, IUCN’s highest risk category for wild species. This means the population has or will decrease by 80 per cent within three generations and is facing an extremely high risk of extinction. According to Canadian conservation group Oceana, at least 31 North Atlantic right whales have been killed since 2017 — 21 of them in Canadian waters. >click to read< 11:45

The International Union for Conservation of Nature changed its Red List Category for North Atlantic right whales from Endangered to Critically Endangered>click to read<

Maine lobstermen are not a threat to right whales

The voices of Maine’s lobster fishermen are being drowned in a sea of injustice. I’m determined to speak for them. U.S. District Court Judge James Boasburg’s recent ruling is the latest blow to Maine’s billion-dollar industry. Boasburg’s decision that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration violated the Endangered Species Act by authorizing the American lobster fishery despite its potential to harm the North Atlantic right whale population comes on the heels of new regulations imposed on fishermen last year. With many fishermen just starting to mark their fishing gear according to the new regulations, Boasburg’s ruling has left them in a state of uncertainty. Will this be the end of the industry as they know it? by Carol Smith, >click to read< 09:15

Feds delay Snow Crab season in Gulf of St. Lawrence

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans said the decision on Thursday to pause the season will let everyone involved in the fishery to put necessary health and safety measures in place. Seafood processors in the Maritimes had called on Ottawa to delay the crab and lobster season, warning that moving ahead with fishing risks workers’ health — and the bottom line — amid the COVID-19 pandemic.,, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said Thursday the province hopes Fisheries and Oceans Canada will delay the spring season for a few weeks, with the possibility of federal compensation. The Maritime Fishermen’s Union, which represents 1,200 harvesters in New Brunswick, said Friday they support a delay of the lobster season until May 15 >click to read< 16:28

Canada unveils 2020 protection measures for North Atlantic right whales

Over the past several years, Canada has put in place comprehensive measures to help protect this species from interactions with fishing gear and vessels.,, announced the enhanced 2020 measures that will help reduce the risks to North Atlantic right whales during the 2020 season from April to November. To help prevent entanglements with fishing gear, Fisheries and Oceans Canada: will implement new season-long fishing closures in areas where whales are aggregating in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, expand temporary fishing closure areas into the Bay of Fundy, more >click to read< 07:59

DFO: Season-long fishing closures possible under new North Atlantic right whale protections

On Thursday, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans announced more protections in an effort to prevent future entanglements. “These new measures build on that work, and are informed by the latest research and technology,” said Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan in a release.,, This year, from April to November, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will be closing fishing in areas of the gulf where whales are gathering in large numbers. If whales are detected in an area of the gulf more than once during a 15-day period, that fishing zone will be closed for fishing until the end of the season on Nov.15. Previously, the zone would be re-opened after 15 days. >click to read< 15:58

Scoping Hearing on Lobster/Gear Right Whale Entanglements

On Tuesday night there will be a scoping meeting from 6-8 PM at Mass Maritime Academy to receive public input on ways to alter the American lobster fishery regulations to reduce mortality of North Atlantic right whales by 60%. This is a followup to the August 21, 2019 NOAA Fisheries GARFO (Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office) public meeting in Bourne that sought input on the recommendations from the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team,, >click to read< 20:29

The Risk of Ship Strikes: Maine Congressional Delegation Ask Feds To Shift Focus Of Right Whale Protections

In a letter to top officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) this week, the delegation calls on the agency to provide more information about reducing the risk of ship strikes off the United States and Canada – strikes that they say are as much a threat to the whales’ survival as entanglement with lobster fishing gear. >click to read< 10:13

  Most likely Carnival Cruise Lines is responsible for 18+ Right Whale deaths in the past 3 year, at which rate they would soon be extinct>click to read<

New Hampshire: Lobstermen lament coming whale entanglement regulations

Seacoast lobstermen weighed in on the proposal at a meeting Thursday night in Portsmouth with the state Department of Fish and Game. They’re still skeptical that their fishery poses enough of a threat to the whales to merit new regulations. And they want more details and input on the new, more easily breakable lines or gear they’ll have to use to keep whales from being entangled. >click to read< 07:10

Maine Lobstermen Skeptical Of Proposal To Tie ‘Whale-Safe’ Seafood Label To Use Of New Fishing Gear. They should be.

A movement is emerging among conservation groups to create a “whale-safe” seal of approval for lobster caught with new types of gear designed to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales. But it could be a tough sell in Maine, where some say the iconic fishery is already sustainable.,, “That’s really important, that fishermen willing to test this gear, and certainly those fishermen fishing with ropeless gear should be rewarded,” says Erica Fuller, a lawyer at the Conservation Law Foundation, one of several organizations suing the federal government for stronger protections of the roughly 400 North Atlantic right whales remaining on the planet. >click to read< 10:36

Maine congressional delegation wants more info before whale rules released

The four members of Maine’s delegation said Wednesday they want information from NOAA about how new findings will be incorporated into the draft rules. NOAA completed a peer review process of the data tool it’s using to create the regulations, and the delegation wants to know what impact that will have on the rules, the members said. >click to read<  14:03

Most likely Carnival Cruise Lines is responsible for 18+ Right Whale deaths in the past 3 year, at which rate they would soon be extinct.

Human caused Right whale deaths have suddenly, in sync with a plummeting whale birthrate, put the right whale on the path to extinction.,,, There is the simple answer, to halt the march towards extinction. There is an easy way to prevent those 18 deaths and at least bring that -18 up to 0. We can stop the majority of the anthropogenic Whale deaths with a simple Cruise Ship lane modification between PEI and the tip of the Gaspe Peninsula. Prior to 2007 ships were almost solely responsible for Right whale deaths, but since 2008 fishing line entanglement deaths have increased and fishermen have become the main target. However data from the past 3 years indicate many more ship strike deaths than entanglement deaths. >click to read< 12:41

Canada-U.S. tensions expected to be big topic at right whale meeting Thursday

Canadian-U.S. trade relations and tensions around fishing regulations are expected to be top of mind Thursday at a discussion about North Atlantic right whales. Dozens of people from the fishing industry and conservation groups are in Moncton to meet with officials from Fisheries and Oceans Canada. ,, Hanging over Thursday’s meeting is the threat that in 2021, the U.S. could ban Canadian seafood imports if officials here don’t put in place equivalent protection for marine mammals.,, After six whale deaths had been reported by Canada by early July, NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Chris Oliver requested an emergency meeting with Fisheries and Oceans and Transport Canada, urging immediate action. >click to read<  19:09

Maine’s lobstermen willing to work with feds to protect whales

The Maine Lobstermen’s Association is one of the key stakeholders in an effort to better protect the North Atlantic right whales,,, A federal plan that’s being developed to help save the whales would remove miles of lobster trap rope from the waters off Maine.,, regulators have also recently expressed desire to work with the lobstermen, who have said the whale protection plan placed too much onus on their business, which is an industry vital to Maine’s economy. Chris Oliver, NOAA’s assistant administrator for fisheries, said this month that federal managers are also “diligently working with our Canadian counterparts to address both ship strikes and entanglements in Canadian waters.” >click to read< 14:18

NOAA answers lobstermen’s critique of whale rules science

NOAA Fisheries released a more detailed response Wednesday to criticisms of the science it used to develop new protections for North Atlantic right whales,,, The response was attached to a letter from NOAA assistant administrator Chris Oliver to Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association. (The letter is attached at the article) >click to read< 14:50

Moulton praises local lobsterers for staying at whale rule table at a teleconference they were’nt invited to

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton on Monday called the Maine Lobstermen’s Association shortsighted for stepping away,,, “It limits their involvement in the solution going forward,” Moulton said on a teleconference organized by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.,,, Monday’s teleconference was billed as an opportunity,,, The sole discussion on technology Monday centered on ropeless fishing gear. The panel, included two IFAW staffers and Rob Morris, a sales engineer with EdgeTech, a company that has developed a ropeless gear fishing system. No fishermen were represented. “We did not extend an invitation,” Ramage said. >click to read< 08:08

Like chasing unicorns?!! – Ropeless traps not easy for crabbers testing them in whale-protection effort

New Brunswick snow crab fishermen have been testing a ropeless trap system to reduce the use of fishing rope, which has been blamed in some of the deaths of endangered North Atlantic right whales. “The main problem with the ropeless gear … is that it was given way too much credit for what it can, at this time, achieve for the snow crab fishery,” Robert Haché, director general of the Acadian Crabbers Association, said in an interview.,, The ropeless traps, developed by California-based Desert Star System, are already used by fishermen in New Zealand and Australia. >click to read< 08:18

Marine Mammal Protection Act: Incidental Harassment Authorization Regulatory “Takes” – Take a Close Look

An IHA is a legal and enforceable document presenting the terms and conditions with which a company must adhere in order to protect wildlife. In this case, the draft IHA was for Vineyard Wind, the wind energy company ready to start construction on an 800 MW offshore wind farm in the Atlantic, covering about 675 square kilometers, starting 14 miles from the coastline of Martha’s Vineyard.,,, An IHA is required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) because, obviously, a huge project like this has impacts and it’s likely that “take” of marine mammals will occur during construction. >click to read< 08:26

Rope free traps? Company studies ways for fishing nets and whales to coexist.

“It’s promising and many people are asking why we don’t use it right away — but it’s still in the scientific testing phase, with tests being done in the water and it has not yet been adapted for commercial fishing,” Cormier explained. In some trials, the buoy took up to 30 minutes to surface; in other cases it never surfaced. “There is still work to be done as far as the reliability of the equipment,” he said. “We don’t want to create another problem, that of ghost fishing.” >click to read< 09:49

How Ship Strikes Have Become The Greatest Threat To Right Whales

This is the first of a two-part report explaining how vessel strikes happen, why they’re increasing and what’s being done to stop them. In the last month, eight North Atlantic right whales have been found dead in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence, including two members of the critically endangered species this past week. Canadian authorities say work to determine these new whales’ cause of death is ongoing. Whatever the cause of these latest deaths, researchers worry collisions with ships are increasingly to blame. >click to read<  20:24

International shipping industry under increased scrutiny as whale death toll grows

The shipping industry is under increased scrutiny after two cargo ships were fined for sailing too fast through the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where the rising death toll among endangered North Atlantic right whales has been partly blamed on collisions with vessels. There have been eight deaths reported since early June, and examinations of five of the carcasses showed three of them had injuries consistent with ship strikes, a leading cause of death for these rare mammals. 227 vessels exceeded speed limit in 3 months >click to read< 11:23

Experts track right whale behavior in new trouble spot

Scientists from the U.S. and Canada have returned from a North Atlantic right whale survey trip in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence where they found dense reserves of zooplankton that have drawn 70 or more of the critically endangered marine mammals to the region this summer. They now expect the right whales to move farther north in the coming summers to follow the movement of the food they consume,,, Many of the right whales that visit Cape Cod Bay and south of the islands in the late winter and early spring migrate northward as they follow the movement of zooplankton, especially a rice-sized copepod called calanus. >click to read< 09:58

More needs to be done to identify travel paths of North Atlantic right whales, scientist says

The Canadian and U.S. governments need to know exactly where North Atlantic right whales are travelling to better protect them, a whale researcher says. “There have been whales in locations that the Canadian government may not have known about, at least early enough, ” said Charles (Stormy) Mayo, director of the North Atlantic Right Whale Ecology program at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Mass. “It’s a very thorny problem and the more that Canada can do, the better off we are.” >click to read< 20:29