Due to a recent article in the
local paper I've added this letter sent to the editor. I apologize for not
adding a copy of the original article but at the time I felt it was at best
poor reporting. It appears that the reporter was a little robust in their
description of the events that occurred. The condeming headline "Slaughter on
water shocks vacationers" (Aug. 22) and ended it on a similar note, with ". . .
the day of the harpooning." These two lines were enough for me to see that this
reporter did not do there homework. I've added the letters below so you can see
what really happened.
hard to protect marine life
Dr. HEATHER KOOPMAN
Grand Manan Whale & Seabird Research
This letter is
written in response to recent articles (Aug. 22 and 23, Telegraph-Journal)
describing the alleged harpooning of a porpoise or whale in a Grand Manan
We would like to clarify one fact that was
not addressed in either article: the Grand Manan Whale & Seabird Research
Station (GMWSRS) has worked in close partnership with Grand Manan weir
fishermen to safely release harbour porpoises and whales from herring weirs for
the past 12 years through the Harbour Porpoise Release Program (HPRP).
Since its inception in 1991, the HPRP has resulted in the
safe release of more than 700 porpoises from weirs around Grand Manan, as well
as four humpbacks, two right whales, an Atlantic white-sided dolphin, and more
than 20 minke whales.
None of this would have been
possible without the support and participation of the Grand Manan herring weir
fishermen and the weir industry. The number of porpoises released each year has
varied between three and 244 but we have been able to maintain an overall
success rate of 94 per cent. As part of this program, many weir fishermen also
remove porpoises on their own when we are not available to
The HPRP is supported by Connors Brothers, and by
conservation organizations from around the globe, and has received
international recognition (see National Geographic June 2003) as an example of
a successful partnership between fishermen and conservationists, working
together to save this species of special concern (designation of the Committee
on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada - COSEWIC).
The HPRP is beneficial for all involved: harbour
porpoises, the weir fishery, porpoise biologists and for marine conservation as
We feel that the impressive accomplishments of
this program should be recognized as a conservation success story - one that
could only be realized through the dedicated efforts of both the Grand Manan
Whale & Seabird Research Station and the Grand Manan weir fishery.
Article sends mixed
Telegraph-Journal began its report on the incident at Bradford Cove with this
condemning headline, "Slaughter on water shocks vacationers" (Aug. 22) and
ended it on a similar note, with ". . . the day of the harpooning." Pretty
Yet, in the report, there was an
indication that the investigation into the incident is ongoing and that no
conclusion had been reached. Which are we to believe?
vacationers Steve Alves and Wendy Sibbison stayed on a few days they could have
witnessed the release of a whale from Bradford Cove weir on Aug. 10, at the
cost to the fishermen of several tons of herring and a hard day's labour.
Too bad they missed it. It might have helped to dry their
tears and mend their broken hearts.