Officials to trace
how whale got entangled
BY MAC TRUEMAN
on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border are working to trace the source of
lobster gear that rescuers untied Wednesday evening from an exhausted right
whale in the Bay of Fundy.
And Campobello Island
whalewatch operator Mackie Green - who led volunteers in this week's rescue
mission - had a whale of a story to tell his boatload of seven tourists
He spoke in an interview off the tip of
Grand Manan while trying to work his vessel close enough to give sightseers a
view of a distant finback whale, which wasn't co-operating.
"Whales definitely got a mind of their own, that's for
sure," he said.
But luckily, that wasn't the case
Thursday as he and his volunteer Campobello Whale Rescue Team honed their
Canadian governmentsupplied Zodiac in on the helpless right whale, at around 5
p. m. Wednesday.
After it was freed from the gear, the
whale was seen swimming in the bay at five kilometres per hour, a normal speed.
"In a lot of cases, right whales will be very aggressive
and try to avoid any sort of interaction," Jerry Conway, the Fisheries and
Oceans Department's co-ordinator of marine mammal disentanglements, said from
his office at the Bedford Marine Institute, in Halifax.
"This animal was pretty well beat by the time Mackie
approached it. It didn't offer any avoidance."
tangled around the whale's tail was attached to a lobster pot and buoy labeled
with a U.S. fishing license, the rescuers found.
Hogan, a Saint John lawyer, says the discovery adds urgency to his call on the
Canadian government to end its experimental summer lobster fishery in the
international waters off Machias Seal Island.
RESCUE: Team manages to cut gear away from right
He argues that
these Canadian boats add to the danger that U.S. lobster fishermen already pose
in the area near the summer feeding grounds of this endangered whale, of which
there are barely more than 300 left in the world.
Peacock, a Fisheries and Oceans communications officer, has dismissed Mr.
Hogan's argument, claiming that Machias Seal Island is outside the feeding
ground. But Mr. Hogan suggested Thursday that if the whale didn't snag the gear
in the Machias Seal Island zone, it had to go through it to get here from where
it did get snagged.
Mr. Conway acknowledged Thursday that
there are "occasional sightings of right whales in this particular area." But
he added that the gear could have come from anywhere off the coast of Maine or
By tracing the U.S. fishing license and
therefore the site where the animal got tangled, the two governments can learn
more about summer migration routes of right whales.
then we eventually can take some management measures that might mitigate the
He said the U.S. government will
shut down commercial fishing in a zone hundreds of square metres in area if
three right whales are sighted in that zone.
have some rather stringent rules - far more than we do, in fact."