NOAA publishes approach to reduce right whale mortality
WASHINGTON, DC — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a new Organic advice on May 27, which includes a framework to reduce North Atlantic right whale mortality and serious injury in federal fisheries by up to 87 percent over the next 10 years.
The 582-page document creates a four-phase approach to reducing the death and injury toll of critically endangered whales in federally-managed fishing areas, although it does not specify measures on how it would be done and that it has no regulations. effect.
“The conservation framework outlines NOAA Fisheries’ commitment to implement the measures necessary for the recovery of right whales, while providing a phased approach and flexibility to the fishing industry,” the spokesperson wrote. Allison Ferreira in an email to PEI. “As such, the conservation framework does not specify specific measures, but identifies the level of reduction in mortalities and serious injuries that the (National Marine Fisheries Service) is committed to achieving in order to fulfill its mandates (Act on endangered species). “
The 10-year plan calls for reducing mortality rates by up to 87 percent in fixed gear fisheries, lowering the average to 0.136 deaths per year.
In 2021, the plan calls on NOAA Fisheries to implement a plan to reduce right whale mortality by 60% from American lobster and Jonah crab trap / trap fisheries in the United States.
The framework will be assessed along the way to allow for revisions.
The new organic advice dealt with the lobster fishery and several other species. It examines measures that were included in a proposed rule late last year to reduce the number of right whale deaths.
This proposed rule included adding traps to each buoy line to reduce the number of vertical lines, inserting weak links in the ropes so that entangled whales could break free, restrictions on certain fishing areas during periods where the whales are expected and the use color- coded rope to identify the origin of gear found entangled on the whales – a practice that Maine has already adopted.
NOAA hopes to publish the proposed rule later this summer.
There are fewer than 400 right whales left in the world and the two main human causes of death are collisions with vessels and entanglements in fishing gear.
Whales migrate along the east coast and into Canada. Local fishermen who have been fishing for lobsters for decades argue that they’re not the ones putting whales at risk and they don’t even see them in Maine waters.
NOAA’s new organic opinion comes after a DC federal court judge ordered the agency to create a new one by the end of May. Environmentalists sued NOAA, arguing that its rules for lobster fishing violated the Endangered Species Act.
The State Department of Marine Resources plans to conduct a thorough assessment of the opinion, but based on the initial review, Governor Janet Mills was pleased that “no danger” was found. , she wrote in a statement.
“However, the long-term ramifications of this document for right whale recovery and its impact on Maine fisheries over the next ten years remain troubling,” she said. “In particular, the Bi-Op underscores not only the importance for Canada to take significant action to reduce right whale mortality, but also the need for NOAA to be able to quantify how the risk reduction measures taken by the Canada may reverse the declining whale population trend. . Failure of either could ultimately lead to unnecessary restrictions in the United States – and that’s not acceptable. “