The number of North Atlantic right whales, also called right whales, is reaching ever more critical levels. Today, there are less than 340 left, or about 28% less than ten years ago – there were even 5,000 individuals at the beginning of the 20th century.e century. One of the main culprits? The man and his mad dash for lobster fishing.
On their main migration route, from Florida to Canada, right whales have to deal with thousands of meter-long vertical lines, traps and lobster traps in which they can easily become entangled. Once blocked, the whales see the ropes saw through their skin or slow them down in their progress, until they die. In total, at least 85% of the specimens have already been entangled in this way, specifies Geo. And if they manage to avoid the murderous lines, it is by colliding with the boats which swarm in the region that these whales can be seriously injured.
If this threat is not new, global warming could have made things worse, completes National Geographic. The area of distribution of this species would have evolved under the pressure of the climate, until being confronted with the fishing activities, with which they were relatively little in contact during the previous decades.
Today, the North Atlantic right whale is one of the most endangered animals in the world. The US government – but also Canada – and several federal agencies are particularly under fire from critics and directly accused of participating in this carnage. In addition, animal defenders criticize them for their passivity in the face of the problem of the recovery of the species. Last June, a court even ruled that an American federal agency, NOAA, had broken several laws by not reducing the impacts of lobster fishing gear in the North Atlantic quickly enough.
A first step, supported by a new downgrading of Atlantic lobster by a sustainability guide for consumers and businesses, Seafood Watch. The latter has in fact just put these crustaceans on a “red list” of seafood to avoid. Enough to make the consumer think and influence, hopefully, our fishing methods.