A recent study by NOAA Fisheries has sounded an alarm about the North Atlantic right whales. It says these whales are in serious danger of disappearing forever unless we take strong action to solve two big problems: when ships hit them, and when they get tangled in fishing gear.
The study looked at three main issues that threaten these whales: getting caught in fishing gear, getting hit by ships, and changes in the food they eat. The research showed that the most effective way to help these whales bounce back is by reducing the number of times they get tangled in fishing gear, followed closely by reducing ship strikes.
One of the study's authors, Daniel Linden, explains that the study doesn't predict exactly how much we can reduce the danger by doing things like using better fishing equipment or slowing down ships. Instead, it helps people who make decisions understand what might happen if we manage to lower the number of whale injuries and deaths from these problems by certain amounts.
However, the study brings bad news. Even if we manage to reduce ship strikes and gear entanglements by a significant 25%, it would still leave the whales with a high risk of becoming extremely scarce, which is almost like being extinct. This could happen if there are fewer than 50 female whales that can have babies after 100 years. Right now, there are fewer than 350 North Atlantic right whales left, according to NOAA Fisheries.
These worrying findings are included in NOAA's review of the right whales' situation over the next five years, emphasizing how urgently we need to act. To address these immediate threats and support efforts to protect the whales, the U.S. President Joe Biden's administration announced a substantial $82 million funding package. This money will be used for different important tasks, including monitoring, reducing ship strikes, developing better fishing gear, and enforcing laws to safeguard the whales.
The North Atlantic right whales are in serious trouble, and this study underscores the critical need for quick and ongoing action to save them from disappearing forever and ensure they continue to thrive in our oceans.
Source: Nathan S. (Oct 24, 2023). NOAA analysis finds right whale strikes and entanglements must be cut to save species. Seafood Source. https://www.seafoodsource.com/news/environment-sustainability/noaa-analysis-finds-right-whale-strikes-and-entanglements-must-be-cut-to-save-species