WWF pushes for more
focus on right-whale entanglements
BY NINA CHIARELLI
A global whaling
conference in Germany this weekend has Maritime conservationists hoping to draw
attention to the entanglement of whales in the Bay of Fundy.
Delegates from around the globe are gathering in Berlin,
Germany for the 55th meeting of the International Whaling Commission to discuss
whale-killing methods, aboriginal whale subsistence, and whale welfare issues.
However, Canada is not a member of the commission, so
Cathy Merriman, a conservation biologist with Canada's World Wildlife Fund
office in Halifax, said any decisions or policies agreed upon at the meeting
would have no effect on Canadian practices.
Wildlife Fund is seeking member countries to put more focus on the issue (of
entanglement)," she said.
Recently published research by
two commission scientists, Dr. Andrew Read and Dr. Simon Northridge, suggests
bycatch, the process that nets unsuspecting species by fishermen, is killing
about 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises, also known as cetaceans, each
The WWF is hoping this research would be
considered when commission members would consider a bycatch resolution to
address the treat to cetaceans.
"On the world stage
(fishing is) a growing industry that has some serious implications to these
species," Ms. Merriman said.
Ms. Merriman said bycatch,
coupled with collisions with large ships, threatens the already endangered
right whales along the Fundy coast.
"It's a serious
problem because the loss of one whale every year is serious," she said.
It is believed that there are fewer than 350 right whales
left in the world.
"The bad luck of the natural habi tat
that right whales find most favourable is also most favourable to humans for
fishing and shipping," Ms. Merriman said.