Right Whales Need Your Help

The North Atlantic Right Whale population, which once numbered in the

thousands, has dwindled to only about 300 individuals, as a result of

collisions with ships and entanglement in commercial fishing gear. Just

recently, the nation watched in agony as unsuccessful attempts were made

to save Churchill, a whale entangled in deadly fishing gear off the New

England coast. He is now presumed dead. In the Northeastern U.S., two

critical habitats have been set aside as feeding grounds for the whales

during their yearly migration north during the late winter and early

spring months. While federal regulations prohibit the use of risky types

of fishing gear in these critical habitats when whales are present, new

regulations are needed to extend the protections further into the waters

that surround these critical habitats. Although the National Marine

Fisheries Service (NMFS) has proposed new regulations that attempt to

address this need, the new proposals will fall far short of being able to

make a difference to this critically endangered species. Additionally,

fishermen are fighting the proposed protections for the Right Whales,

saying that it will drive up the cost of doing business and cut into their

profits.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Write to the NMFS and ask that it strengthen its proposal for Seasonal

Area Management (SAM) for the Right Whales. Ask them to:

  1. Ensure that the restrictions in the SAM area be in place from January

    1 through July 31, with areas only opened to unrestricted fishing after

    the whales have left the area and

  2. Require that buoy lines that extend from the fishing gear to the

    surface break at no more than 1,100 pounds, so that entangled whales can

    break free.

Send your letters by TUESDAY, DEC. 11TH to:

Mary Colligan

Chief, Protected Resources Division

National Marine Fisheries Service

1 Blackburn Drive

Gloucester, Mass. 01930-2298. (Sorry no email.)

You might also wish to tell NMFS that, as a consumer, you are willing to

pay more for products if that is what it takes to save the whales.

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