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Whale Work
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans will draft a plan to save the right whales

By ALAN WHITE
Telegraph Journal

    FREDERICTON - Work is under way to draft a Canadian recovery plan for the North Atlantic right whale, the world's most endangered large whale. Scientists, conservationists and officials from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard will gather later this month for a World Wildlife Fund-backed meeting in Halifax. They're being asked to recommend ways to eliminate hazards threatening the survival of the big mammal, which has been on the endangered species list for decades. The move comes about a month after one right whale was killed by a ship - the third such death in five years in the Bay of Fundy - and two others became tangled in fishing gear. "It's been apparent for a long time that a plan dedicated to the recovery of this animal is necessary," said Deborah Tobin, public education co-ordinator for East Coast Ecosystems, a Nova Scotia-based right whale preservation group. "Things are probably moving more quickly now because of the number of widely publicized incidents... in the last month," she said. "These whales don't have a lot 'of time and it's just time to do this." Centuries ago, there were as many as 200,000 right whales, but intensive hunting cut their numbers to the point where they were first thought extinct in 1750. About 300 remain today, almost two-thirds of them in a Bay of Fundy conservation area between Grand Manan and Nova Scotia. A migratory species, right whales can be found in the Bay of Fundy from June to December each year, with August and September being the peak period. The League of Nations, the predecessor to the United Nations, first made the right whale a protected species in the 1930s. The U.S. established a recovery plan for the whales in 1991. Now, Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans is doing the same. *

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