Here’s hoping a shorter line will reach a broader target

Lobster season is about to open on Nova Scotia’s southwestern shores and our Atlantic team here at WWF-Canada are anxiously waiting to see if the progress toward long-term right whale conservation that was made last November through our collaborations with lobster fishermen in Canada’s two biggest lobster fishing areas will take us a little further along. We are optimistic that the fishermen will once again fish using the Voluntary Standard Practices that they developed to cut down on the number of right whale entanglements, and continue to set a trail blazing example for fishermen in all fisheries, not just their own. We are also hopeful that fishermen in other areas will establish their own practices, which will further reduce this threat to right whales.
Lobster (c) Lidgard Photography/WWF Canada
© Lidgard Photography/WWF Canada
The conservation of the North Atlantic right whale has been a 20-year effort for WWF-Canada, and fortunately, that work gets to continue as a result of funding we recently received from the Government of Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program.  This means we get to keep working with the fishermen who have already gone to amazing lengths (or reduced ones so-to-speak since they shortened their fishing lines) to protect the remaining 400 right whales. It also means we get to work with new fishermen to ensure this species, and others, are able to swim freely in Atlantic Canadian waters.
Lobster Fishing Boat (c) Lidgard Photography/WWF-Canada
As I mentioned earlier, a week after I was on vacation last summer, a dead right whale was found floating in the Digby, Nova Scotia area, and a necropsy was performed to discover the cause of death. The results showed that the most likely cause of this animal’s death was rope entanglement (presumably from fishing gear). However, the scientists who performed the necropsy have said that this conclusion remains tentative because of the advanced decomposition of the carcass, so we can’t be 100 percent certain that its death resulted from one of its major threats. What we do know is that this death matters because there are so few of them remaining, and so it is crucial that we continue working with fishermen in all fisheries to reduce the entanglement threat.
Hauling traps (c) Lidgard Photography/WWF-Canada
On a happy note, last week some exciting news was released about the right whale, but I’m going to let my colleague Tonya Wimmer tell you about that this week so keep your eye on the blog. What I will say is that I might just have to celebrate this news with another big “feed” of lobster from our fishermen friends on the southwest shore!
Right Whale Tail (c) Tonya Wimmer/WWF-Canada
Right Whale (c) Tonya Wimmer/WWF-Canada