Subject: Right Whale:U.S. offers new plan to protect Atlantic whales (fwd)

Mike Williamson (pita@www1.wheelock.edu)
Fri, 18 Jul 1997 06:36:39 -0400 (EDT)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 16 Jul 1997 08:08:34 -0400
From: Dagmar Fertl <Dagmar_Fertl@mms.gov>
Reply-To: Marine Mammals Research and Conservation Discussion
     <MARMAM@UVVM.UVIC.CA>
To: MARMAM@UVVM.UVIC.CA
Subject: newsclip - U.S. offers new plan to protect Atlantic whales

     U.S. offers new plan to protect Atlantic whales

     July 15, 1997

     PORTLAND, Maine (Reuter) -- Federal regulators, pressured by New
     England's lobster industry, on Tuesday unveiled a less restrictive
     proposal to protect endangered Atlantic whales.

     The rules are designed to protect whales from entanglement in
     fishing gear by requiring some equipment modifications and
     prohibiting lobstering in a few areas when whales are known to be
     present.

     "I don't think (the rules) are watered down ... I think they're more
     workable for both the whales and the fishermen," said Andrew
     Rosenberg, the National Marine Fisheries Service's regional
     administrator.

     The new proposal won initial praise from the industry and its
     political supporters, who had argued that a more extensive plan
     proposed this year would have cost at least $50 million and forced
     many lobstermen out of business.

     "With this announcement we will be all right," said Robin Alden,
     Maine's Commissioner of Marine Resources, who had threatened
     to sue the federal government over its original proposal.

     Alden said the controversy had made lobstermen more aware of the
     danger some gear poses for whales, in particular the northern right
     whale, whose population has been reduced to an estimated 300.

     "(The whales) now have 7,000 friends looking out for them on the
     ocean," Alden said, citing a proposal to train fishermen to assist
     special rescue crews that will disentangle the whales.

     Whales caught in gear can drown or be unable to eat. They can
     drag a tangle of lines and lobster traps for years. Officials hope to
     reduce the northern right whale's death rate from entanglement to
     less than one per year.

     The fishing industry had complained they were being singled out for
     regulation. Rosenberg acknowledged whales also face the danger
     of being hit by ships, but said his agency cannot regulate the
      shipping industry.

     "This is not just a problem for the fishing industry, it is a problem
     for people who live on the East Coast and value the (whale)
     resource," Rosenberg told reporters.

     The rules will also restrict the use of gill nets used off New England
     and drift nets used off Georgia and Florida. The United States also
     will work with Canada to coordinate whale protection efforts.