New mea­sures to pro­tect whales

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ATLANTIC -

SHEDIAC, N.B. — As Cana­dian of­fi­cials scram­ble to de­ter­mine whether an en­dan­gered whale caught in fish­ing rope off Que­bec’s Gaspe Penin­sula may have freed it­self, fed­eral Fish­eries and Oceans Min­is­ter Do­minic Le­Blanc is promis­ing a new set of rules around com­mer­cial fish­ing gear to pro­tect the large marine mam­mals. A North At­lantic right whale was spot­ted en­tan­gled in ropes dur­ing a fly-over of the Gulf of St. Lawrence Mon­day, but Le­Blanc said aerial and wa­ter pa­trols were un­able to lo­cate it Tuesday.

“We iden­ti­fied a pod of 13 other North At­lantic right whales that were in the ex­act vicin­ity of where the other whale had been spot­ted en­tan­gled the pre­vi­ous day,” he said.

“We’re con­tin­u­ing to pa­trol the area but sci­en­tists be­lieve it’s pos­si­ble that per­haps the whale freed it­self.” Of­fi­cials are in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether the fish­ing gear rope that en­tan­gled the whale was in the area legally or had been lost or aban­doned, which Le­Blanc said has been the case with other en­tan­gle­ments this sum­mer. Ten right whales have died since June in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, an un­prece­dented num­ber of deaths for the en­dan­gered marine mam­mal. With an es­ti­mated pop­u­la­tion of 500 around the world, con­ser­va­tion groups and marine sci­en­tists have warned that the North At­lantic right whale is at im­mi­nent risk of ex­tinc­tion.

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