SeaWorld & Busch Gardens conservation fund commits $900,000 to protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales
The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund announced that it has committed $900,000 over the next three years in the fight to save the critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whale. The announcement was made by Dr. Michael Moore of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, alongside Dr. Hendrik Nollens, Corporate Vice President of Animal Health and Welfare at SeaWorld and President of the SeaWorld Conservation Fund, during yesterday’s 2019 Ropeless Consortium meeting, an annual summit to help protect marine animals, at the University of Southern Maine in Portland.
The funding provided by the SeaWorld Conservation Fund will be primarily used to test alternative non-lethal fishing gear. Whales and sea turtles commonly entangle in ropes that connect crab or lobster traps on the sea floor to buoys on the sea surface. These ropes allow fishermen to haul their traps to the sea surface, and the buoy allows fishermen to locate gear. Removing this end line from trap and pot fishing gear will significantly reduce or even eliminate entanglements. There are promising prototypes available for evaluation by scientists, regulators and fishermen, but few resources for proper testing of these systems. Support by the SeaWorld Conservation Fund will be used to evaluate the cost, the operational impact to the fishermen and the safety for the whales, as well as advance public awareness of the issues.
- Northern New Brunswick fishermen receive $2 million to test fishing gear to reduce whale entanglements, including ropeless systems.
- Urgent Need for Ropeless Fishing: Removing Endlines to Protect Right Whales
Dr. Mark Baumgartner, Dr. Timothy Werner, and Dr. Michael Moore discuss ropeless fishing as a solution to the North Atlantic right whale entanglement crisis in Sea Technology magazine.
- Agreement to continue testing ropeless gear in West Coast Dungeness crab fishery in 2019:
Takeaways from the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group presentation to the Marine Mammal Commission
Overcoming Development, Regulatory and Funding Challenges for Rope-less Fishing in the U.S. and Canada
Thursday, February 1, 2018
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium hosted a one-day workshop on Thursday, February 1, 2018 entitled “Overcoming Development, Regulatory and Funding Challenges for Rope-less Fishing in the U.S. and Canada.” The workshop was motivated by the most recent assessment of North Atlantic right whales, which indicated that the species is in its 7th consecutive year of decline with only about 450 whales left. Fishing gear entanglements cause the majority of right whale deaths, and also contribute to declining calving rates through the prolonged health effects of non-lethal entanglements. The development and eventual operational use of rope-less fishing has the exciting promise to eliminate all trap/pot gear entanglements, the cause of most right whale entanglement deaths.
The objectives of the workshop were to (1) discuss the need for and approaches to implementing rope-less fishing to reduce entanglements of large whales in trap/pot fisheries, (2) discuss and develop regulatory pathways to make rope-less fishing legal in the United States and Canada, and (3) discuss strategies to fund two phases of development: demonstration/evaluation and experimental fisheries. The workshop format consisted of presentations followed by facilitated discussion on the urgent need for rope-less fishing techniques, the current state of development of rope-less fishing, technical development plans, regulatory challenges and solutions, and the funding landscape.