Highly endangered North Atlantic right whales are on the verge of extinction, and 7% of the population died in just the past three years. Only around 400 right whales remain. Without aggressive action now, this could be the first large whale to go extinct in the Atlantic Ocean in centuries,
...the NGO noted.
According to data provided by the ocean conservation organization:
- Since 2017, 28 right whales have died in US and Canadian waters.
- Only seven new calves have been seen in 2019.
- In 2019, researchers looked at the causes of 70 North Atlantic right whale deaths recorded between 2003 and 2018 in the US and Canada. Where the cause of death could be determined, nearly 90% died as a direct result of fishing gear entanglements or ship strikes.
- Nearly 83% of right whales have been entangled in fishing gear at least once in their lives.
The US and Canadian governments must stand united in efforts to protect North Atlantic right whales from collisions with ships and entanglements in fishing gear.
In this respect, Oceana launched a new campaign calling the two states to take the following actions as soon as possible to protect North Atlantic right whales:
- Reduce the amount of vertical lines used in fixed-gear fisheries in US and Canadian Atlantic waters.
- Implement effective fisheries closures that remove threats to right whales when they are present.
- Modify fishing gear and practices to reduce the likelihood and severity of entanglements.
- Enhance fisheries monitoring and require public tracking of fishing vessels.
- Enact seasonal speed restrictions in areas where right whales are known to frequent and implement short-term restrictions in additional areas when they are detected.
- Provide long-term funding and capacity building for research, monitoring and risk reduction.
- Expand and strengthen response networks comprising researchers, environmental organizations, industry groups and stakeholders, and government decision-makers to help manage the crisis and start rebuilding the population.
The North Atlantic right whale is one of the world’s most endangered species of large whale. It is mostly found exclusively along the East Coast of Canada and the US.
This made both Canada and the US to implement various measures to prevent ship strikes during times when North Atlantic right whales are likely to be present.
Protection of these whales has been high on the agenda of Canadian government, which has introduced several measures to protect them, including slowing down more ships, increasing the zones in which speed restrictions apply, increasing aerial surveillance, and funding for initiatives to enhance marine mammal response.
US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) also annually issues mandatory ship reporting and fixed speed restriction zones along the US East Coast to protect right whales.