Friends mourn loss of N.B. fish­er­man

Lob­ster­man had freed dozens of en­tan­gled whales over past 15 years

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ATLANTIC -

A lob­ster fish­er­man with a pas­sion for free­ing whales from deadly fish­ing line was killed soon af­ter he cut the last piece of rope from a mas­sive whale in the wa­ters off east­ern New Brunswick, friends and col­leagues con­firmed Tues­day.

They say Joe Howlett had helped res­cue about two dozen whales over the last 15 years.

Mackie Green of the Cam­po­bello Whale Res­cue Team said Howlett had boarded a fed­eral Fish­eries De­part­ment ves­sel off Ship­pa­gan on Mon­day to help a North At­lantic right whale that had be­come en­tan­gled in a heavy snarl of rope.

Green was not on the boat, but said he was told the 59-yearold veteran fish­er­man was hit by the whale just af­ter it was cut free and started swim­ming away.

“They got the whale to­tally dis­en­tan­gled and then some kind of freak thing hap­pened and the whale made a big flip,” said Green, who started the res­cue team with Howlett in 2002 and had worked closely with him ever since.

“Joe def­i­nitely would not want us to stop be­cause of this. This is some­thing he loved and there’s no bet­ter feel­ing than get­ting a whale un­tan­gled, and I know how good he was feel­ing af­ter cut­ting that whale clear.”

Fed­eral Fish­eries Min­is­ter Do­minic Le­Blanc is­sued a state­ment Tues­day of­fer­ing his sym­pa­thies to Howlett’s fam­ily and friends.

“We have lost an ir­re­place­able mem­ber of the whale res­cue com­mu­nity,” Le­Blanc said, adding that such res­cues can be dan­ger­ous.

“Tak­ing part in whale res­cue op­er­a­tions re­quires im­mense brav­ery and a pas­sion for the wel­fare of ma­rine mam­mals ... There are se­ri­ous risks in­volved with any dis­en­tan­gle­ment at­tempt. Each sit­u­a­tion is unique, and en­tan­gled whales can be un­pre­dictable.”

The min­is­ter con­firmed Howlett was work­ing with fed­eral con­ser­va­tion of­fi­cers and the Cana­dian Coast Guard. As well, he said Howlett was aboard a smaller “fast re­sponse” ves­sel when the res­cue was tak­ing place.

But the fed­eral state­ment of­fered no other de­tails.

Jerry Con­way of the Cana­dian Whale In­sti­tute in Cam­po­bello, N.B., said Howlett had freed an­other North At­lantic right whale in roughly the same area less than a week ear­lier.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.