Tuesday, November 30, 2021

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Minority-owned Southern businesses get back on their feet post-pandemic with a fund's help; President Biden says don't panic over the new COVID variant; and eye doctors gauge the risk of dying from COVID.

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U.S. Senate is back in session with a long holiday to-do list that includes avoiding a government shutdown; negotiations to revive the Iran Nuclear Deal resume; and Jack Dorsey resigns as CEO of Twitter.

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South Dakota foster kids find homes with Native families; a conservative group wants oil and gas reform; rural Pennsylvania residents object to planes flying above tree tops; and poetry debuts to celebrate the land.

Offshore Closures Requested to Save Endangered Right Whales

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Friday, June 19, 2020   

ROCHESTER, N.H. - Emergency action is being requested to protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales.

The Pew Charitable Trusts petitioned Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross yesterday to do more to save the fewer than 400 North Atlantic right whales, many off New England shores. Peter Baker is the director of Pew's marine conservation work in New England.

He says they're recommending four targeted offshore closures - one year-round off the Massachusetts coast, and three seasonal areas in Gulf of Maine federal waters. Baker explains this would not impact most lobstermen.

"The state of Maine says that 76% of their lobstermen never leave state waters when they're fishing for lobsters," says Baker. "And the vast majority of these closed areas occur in federal waters that are offshore."

Baker says closing these areas would do a lot to preserve the species. Meanwhile, he says state and federal governments can negotiate regulations, such as fishing gear changes.

The state of Maine and local lobster groups claim recent federal right whale recommendations unfairly burden lobstermen.

Scientist Charles "Stormy" Mayo is director of the Right Whale Ecology Program at the Center for Coastal Studies. Mayo describes one way that right whales are most likely to die.

"It's quite clear that the principal causes in the issue of entanglement, the causes of mortality, are fixed fishing gear," says Mayo.

Many fishermen and lobstermen use rope from their buoy to their trap at the bottom of the ocean to retrieve their catch. But the right whales can get tangled in this rope, or fixed gear, often losing their lives.

Mayo says "ropeless" fishing gear technology is being extensively tested in New England.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts



Disclosure: The Pew Charitable Trusts - Environmental Group contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Climate Change/Air Quality, Consumer Issues, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Energy Policy, Environment, Health Issues, Public Lands/Wilderness, Salmon Recovery. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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