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Captive Orca Nakai Dies at SeaWorld San Diego

credit: SeaWorld San Diego An orca has died while in captivity at SeaWorld San Diego....
A fluke of a North Atlantic right whale lifts out of the water

Federal Proposal Aims to Protect Endangered Right Whales From Ship Strikes

For Immediate Release, July 29, 2022 WASHINGTON- The National Marine Fisheries Service proposed a rule...
Common bottlenose dolphin

100 bottlenose dolphins hunted in Faroe Islands

This morning, (July 29th), 100 bottlenose dolphins were killed in Skálafjörður on the Faroe Islands. The...
North Atlantic right whale. Photo by Regina Asmutis-Sylvia

Update on Snow Cone – Critically Endangered Right Whale Who Gave Birth Despite Chronic Entanglement

July 2022 - Fisheries and Oceans Canada has reported that Snow Cone was spotted on...

WDC participates in ropeless fishing workshop

Last week, WDC was invited to participate in Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s workshop on reducing entanglements to critically endangered North Atlantic right whales. At this workshop, engineers introduced developing technologies for remote gear retrieval, which means a method for fishing that doesn’t use rope connecting the lobster trap at the ocean floor to the buoy at the surface, called “vertical lines”. Eliminating vertical lines in the water column would drastically reduce the risk of whales becoming entangled in fishing gear but additional research is needed for it to be a functioning and practical solution.  Workshop discussions included the need to overcome a number of challenges to the use of “ropeless” gear such as conflicts with gear of other fisheries, changes to current legal gear requirements, and the high cost of this emerging technology. 

 Several types of remote release technologies were showcased for workshop participants including one which is currently operationally in use in Australia.  It is a little complicated to explain, but this video illustrates what is being used:

 Click HERE to play 

 As a member of the federally appointed Take Reduction Team, WDC is excited at the advances in acoustic release, or so-called “ropeless” gear which would allow fishing and whales to safely co-exist.  “This is not yet ready for prime time” said Regina Asmutis-Silvia, WDC’s North American executive director, “but with North Atlantic right whales on the brink of extinction, we need to work with the industry to take this from a promising concept to operational.”       

 North Atlantic right whales are a critically endangered species for which fewer than 450 remain. Tragically, since April of 2017, over 4% of North Atlantic right whales have been killed, primarily as a result of fishing gear entanglements and vessel strikes.   In human terms, a similar loss would mean the deaths of more than 304 million people in a matter of weeks – that would be approximately 94% of the entire US population.

The need for whale populations to recover is increasingly coming to light as emerging research underscores the critical role whales play in sustaining fish stocks and fighting climate change.  WDC is committed to continuing to work with its partners to ensure that right whales will not only survive, but thrive, and do their jobs as ecosystem engineers. 

 WDC is excited to see progress being made in ropeless fishing, as well as cooperation among fishermen, scientists, and conservationists. We are working towards a solution before it is too late for North Atlantic right whales.

To help us continue this important work, consider contributing to our Fighting Fund