Public Meetings Set for July to Discuss Changes in Large Whale Protection 2003/07/01 Public Meetings Set for July to Discuss Changes in Large Whale Protection




 

Public Meetings

Set for July to Discuss

Changes in Large

Whale Protection

 

 

 

Contact:

Teri Frady
(508) 495-2239

NR03.04

NMFS Northeast Region

N         E         W         S

 

PUBLIC MEETINGS SET FOR JULY
TO DISCUSS CHANGES IN LARGE WHALE PROTECTION

Gloucester, Mass. – Federal plans for reducing threats to endangered large whales off the east coast will be up for discussion at six public meetings along the eastern seaboard beginning July 7. The plans center on how best to further reduce serious injuries and deaths to these animals caused by entanglement in commercial fishing gear.

The meetings are being organized by NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), the federal agency responsible for the recovery and protection of the nation's large whales.

Three endangered large whales species are susceptible to this kind of injury: fin, right and humpback. At present, management relies on various kinds of closures, gear modifications, research to develop whale-friendly gear, and expansion of whale sighting, reporting, and disentanglement efforts. Despite these efforts, entanglements have continued to occur.

"Based on the results of cooperative research over the past few years with industry and others, we know much more about how gear, particularly the rope between pot/trap gear, operates while fishing and how this can sometimes pose a threat to whales," said Mary Colligan, Northeast regional chief of the NOAA Fisheries group charged with developing the plan. "It's now possible and necessary to gather our efforts into a more broad-based approach, providing better protection for whales while also protecting fishing livelihoods."

These meetings are the first step in revising rules that govern fishing operations that use gear known to entangle large whales. The current rules are primarily focused on the lobster trap/pot and sink gillnet fisheries. Any rule changes will likely be approved by the end of 2004. However, the rules would not likely become effective until at least early 2005.

Among the items to be considered are including additional gear types, revising or discarding short-duration time and area closures, changing requirements for using certain kinds of line, excluding of some areas owing to minimal risks posed, and modifying effective dates for changes in fishing practices.

Many of the possible changes to the plan have been developed by a team of advisors comprising state and federal officials, commercial fishermen that use the affected gear types, non-governmental environmental organizations, and whale scientists. There are now some 60 members of the "Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team," which is required under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.

NOAA Fisheries is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation's living marine resources through scientific research, management, enforcement and the conservation of marine mammals and other protected marine species and their habitat

The Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources.

On the Internet:

More information on the meetings and background documentation will be posted here: http://www.nero.noaa.gov/whaletrp
NOAA - http://www.noaa.gov
NOAA Fisheries - http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov
NOAA Fisheries Northeast Region - http://www.nero.noaa.gov
NOAA Fisheries Southeast Region - http://caldera.sero.nmfs.gov

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MEETING SCHEDULE

1. Monday, July 7, 2003- Fairhaven, MA, 6-9 p.m.
Holiday Inn
110 Middle Street
Fairhaven, MA 02719

2. Wednesday, July 9, 2003- Cape May Court House, NJ, 6-9 p.m.
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County
355 Court House/South Dennis Road (Route 657)
Cape May Court House, NJ

3. Thursday, July 10, 2003- Washington, NC, 6-9 p.m.
Pamlico District Office
943 Washington Square Mall
Washington, NC 27889

4. Monday, July 14, 2003- Portland, ME, 6-9 p.m.
Holiday Inn - Portland by the Bay
88 Spring Street
Portland, ME 04101

5. Tuesday, July 15, 2003, Ellsworth, ME, 6-9 p.m.
Holiday Inn
215 High Street
Ellsworth, ME 04505

6. Thursday, July 17, 2003, Ft. Pierce, FL, 6-9 p.m.
Holiday Inn
Okeechobee Road
Ft. Pierce, FL 34950

Special Accommodations
These meetings are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Request for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Diane Borggaard (978)-281-9328 ext. 6503.

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NOAA Fisheries is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation's living marine resources through scientific research, management, enforcement, and the conservation of marine mammals and other protected marine species and their habitat. To learn more about NOAA Fisheries, please visit http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov.



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(File Modified Nov. 24 2004)