Subject: Case Study: Of Lobsters and Whales

Michael Williamson (
Tue, 6 Aug 1996 15:35:30 -0400 (EDT)

What suggestions can you make?
What is the problem?

J. Michael Williamson
   Wheelock College
   Principal Investigator-WhaleNet <>
   Associate Professor-Science
voice: 617.734.5200, ext. 256
fax:    617.566.7369


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 5 Aug 1996 15:15:56 EST
To: Multiple recipients of list MARMAM <MARMAM@UVVM.BITNET>
Subject: news clip - whale traps

     08/03/96 0157  Whale Traps

      Associated Press Writer

     BOSTON (AP) -- In a threat to the palates of gourmets everywhere,
     Northeast lobstermen may have to pull up their gear because endangered
     whales are dying entangled in trap lines.

     The National Marine Fisheries Service is deciding whether to close
     areas such as Cape Cod Bay and the Gulf of Maine to lobster catching
     for several months a year while the endangered humpback and North
     Atlantic right whales feed and mate there.

     More than 30 whales have become stuck in lobster lines in East
     Coast waters over a five-year period. Twelve of the most endangered
     whales have died.

     The proposed restrictions threaten to limit not only the livelihood
     of the 12,000 to 14,000 lobstermen from Maine to New Jersey, but also
     some of the best seafood in the country, pitting lobster-lovers
     against whale-huggers.

     "If they try to restrict these guys from fishing when they normally
     fish, or in areas they normally fish, that hurts," said Bill Adler,
     executive director of the 1,100-member Massachusetts Lobstermen's

     What Alaska is to salmon, New England is to lobsters -- home of the
     best. Lobstermen landed 34,931 tons of the large-clawed Atlantic
     variety in 1994, the last year for which figures are available.

     The restriction would likely hike lobster prices that are already
     rising because of lower ocean temperatures. Lobster prices have risen
     by nearly $2 pound this year to $4.75.

     The tougher restrictions are contained in the agency's proposed
     1997 List of Fisheries, classifying each fishing site by its effect on
     marine mammals. Lobster waters would move from a category 3 to the
     highest category of 1, meaning that lobster catching poses a high risk
     of death or injury to endangered species.

     Lobstermen and others can submit comments on the proposal before
     Oct. 15. The fisheries service will make its decision by Jan. 1.

     Whale activists say the federal restrictions would be long overdue.

     The fisheries service "has historically refused to deal with this
     situation," said Max Strahan of Boston-based GreenWorld, which has
     sued federal and state agencies to enforce laws protecting endangered

     More than 30 whales entangled themselves in lobster gear from 1990
     to 1994, the fisheries service said. Of that total, 11 humpbacks died
     or suffered serious injuries and one right whale died.

     "No more right whales can be allowed to be killed if their species
     can be expected to survive," Strahan said.