NOAA News Archive 123110

NOAA News Archive 123110

Help Save North Atlantic Right Whales

This action alert is for U.S. residents. International advocates, please visit Humane Society International.

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Dear Assistant Administrator Oliver,

The National Marine Fisheries Service's proposed rule to address North Atlantic right whale entanglements in fishing gear does not go far enough to save this species from extinction.

With fewer than 360 individuals surviving and only about 70 breeding females remaining, it is imperative that the agency address entanglements in fishing gear in a meaningful way. Severe entanglement in lobster and crab trap/pot gear is the leading cause of death for this species. Scientists have determined that more than 85 percent of right whales have been entangled in fishing gear at least once in their lifetimes, and 60 percent have been entangled multiple times.

There is technology available that potentially reduces the risk of entanglement in trap/pot fishing gear known as "ropeless" or "pop-up" gear, and other less protective technology known as "weak line" rope; however, the most effective management tool short of converting all traps to ropeless throughout the fishery is to simply close areas to fishing when these animals are known to be in those waters.

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