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Below are just some of the articles published on the recent efforts to save a right whales tangled with fishing gear. We will continue to post these articles as the become available.

Rescuers try to free minke whale from weir

Summit News Service
August 21/2001

    CAMPOBELLO - Whale rescue workers were attempting late yesterday to free a minke whale from a herring weir off Campobello Island.
   Andrew Westgate, a research biologist from the Grand Manan Whale and Seabird Research Station, said it's not unusual for whales to swim into the large, open-mouthed traps used to collect herring.
    "It typically happens maybe two times a summer" off southwestern New Brunswick, he said. The whales swim into the weirs in search of herring then become confused and can't find their way out.
    "Whales don't typically like to swim between things and they don't like to swim through narrow spaces," Mr. Westgate said.
   The rescue workers were attempting to sweep the minke whale out of the weir.
    "We have a special mammal seine that we use to rescue harbour porpoises from herring weirs," Mr. Westgate said. "We're going to use that seine. It's like a giant sweep. We're going to sweep it out of the weir. "
    About 150 harbour porpoises have been freed this summer using the same technique.
    The minke is one of the smallest whales found off the coast of New Brunswick.
   They usually measure nine metres in length and weigh up to 14 tonnes. The worldwide population is about 900,000.

Restrictions on ships proposed to protect whales

Associated Press
August 4/2001

    BOSTON - A new federal report in the United States recommends that Ships using East Coast ports slow down and be restricted to certain routes to help protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale.
   Some aspects of the report are, already meeting opposition from the U.S. navy and from the shipping industry, including a shipping company offlcial who assisted on the report. The draft report released Thursday recommends directing ships around whales, slowing down ships in whale habitats, and establishing mandatory shipping lanes to reduce the chances a whale will be hit.
    The proposals also require millions of dollars in research funding and approval by national and international governing bodies. The National Marine Fisheries Service will review the final report when it's submitted in September.
    The report by the ship strike committee of the National Marine Fisheries Service took 18 months to complete.
    "It's a good first step," said Bill Eldridge of the Boston based shipping company Peabody and Lane, who assisted on the report. ,It,s just beginning. It's nowhere near the end."
    Ship strikes are thought to be responsible for about half of all North Atlantic right whale deaths caused by man, with fishing gear entanglements accounting for the remainder.
   About 18 whales have been killed by ship strikes in the last 20 years, including two this year.
   There are about 300 North Atlantic right whales left in the world.
    "The agency is convinced something has to done," said Chris Mantzaris, the deputy administrator of the fisheries service, northeast region.
   One recommendation calls for buffer zones of up to 24 kilometres around areas where right whales are spotted. Ships would be required to avoid those areas.
    Mandatory shipping lanes through the Great South Channel off Cape Cod and calving grounds off the coast of Florida and Georgia are also recommended.
    Mr. Eldridge said shippers are concerned about crowding those lanes, but said it's a workable solution. Shippers are more likely to oppose a recommended 10-knot speed limit - about 18 kilometres an hour in areas when whales are nearby because there is no science supporting the 10 knot limit, he said.
    He said slowing down hurts shippers in an industry where punctuality is important and also violates protocols that give captains control of their vessels.
    Report author Bruce Russell, a retired coast guard commander, calculated worstcase delays of an hour under the 10-knot limit.
   "I'm hoping the industry will feel this is something we can try," said Kyla Bennett of the International Fund for Animal Welfare said.

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