David L Ryan / Boston Globe

USA - This could be a turning point for protection of the right whale

Government’s proposed new rules don’t go far enough

Re “New US plan to aid right whales faces wide-ranging wrath” by David Abel (Page A1, March 1): As a marine advocate, campaigner, and former stranding responder, I have been involved in all aspects of trying to protect the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale from a path toward extinction.

With the population having declined to only about 360 animals, it is time to call on our government to take bold action to reverse this decline.

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) proposed new rules to reduce the risk of entanglement to right whales from vertical buoy rope in lobster and crab fisheries. Unfortunately, these rules are based on outdated population data and rely on too low of a risk-reduction threshold, aiming as they do for at least a 60 percent reduction in mortalities or serious injuries of right whales (which does not accomplish what NOAA is obligated by law to do).

Mitigation measures such as mandating weak rope for fishermen are interim solutions at best and do not eliminate the risk of entanglement, which is the biggest threat to right whales’ survival.

Right whales need immediate protections to eliminate vertical buoy rope from the water column and enact mandatory vessel slowdowns where whales are present.

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