To protect rare whale, new fishing rules on the way.

To protect rare whale, new fishing rules on the way.

This week is shaping the week of the North Atlantic right whales. Regulators, conservatives and fisheries stakeholders gathered in New England to take new measures to protect disabled cetaceans from potentially fatal navigation in fishing equipment.

Mike Pentony, the Gloucester-based regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries, said "Tackling entanglements is critical to the recovery of the North Atlantic right whale population, and we can't do it without the assistance and cooperation of those who know best how the fishing industry interacts with large whales,“ in a statement.

"The continued participation and dedication of our industry, science, (non-governmental organizations) and agency partners is absolutely necessary to future success."

The population of the North Atlantic right whales peaked at about 480 in 2010 and before the emergence of a downward trajectory, 17 deaths, particularly in the United States and Canada, were observed. It has fueled deaths in the snow crab fishing of St. Lawrence Bay.

The immediate goal for the take reduction team is develop a plan "to reduce incidental mortality and serious injury to a level known as the 'potential biological removal' level that allows the stock to stabilize or grow, rather than decline," NOAA Fisheries said in advance of the Providence meetings.

"Although it's been in existence since 1997, the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan has not been able to consistently reduce serious injuries and mortalities to below the potential biological removal level."

Mike Asaro who is NOAA's acting assistant regional administrator for protected resources said "I'm confident we have the right people around the table to tackle this problem. This is a complex issue, but with the cooperation and active engagement from the people who know this issue best, I have hope that following the meeting, we will have a solid set of conservation measures to proceed to rule making that will allow the fishing industry and whales to coexist and thrive."


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