Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day - protecting Bay of Fundy Right whales!

Here's a photo of Dr. Moira Brown, of the Canadian Whale Institute, during a very important announcement late last week: large ships will now avoid traveling in an area of the Atlantic coast where endangered North Atlantic Right whales gather seasonally to socialize.

The initiative, just announced by the Federal government, is an effort to save the Right whales from extinction by mapping out an area of Roseway Basin (20 nautical miles south of Cape Sable Island), to be avoided by ships of 300 gross tonnage and upwards.

"In order to reduce collisions between the right whale and large vessels ... the best thing to do is to not have ships and whales in the same location at the same time," Dr. Brown told environmentalists and reporters after the announcement.

From 1970 through January 2007, 75 right-whale deaths were documented along the eastern seaboard of Canada and the United States. (28 from ship strikes, 8 from entanglements in fishing gear).

Roseway Basin, the lower Bay of Fundy and three habitat areas in the United States are the only areas in the western North Atlantic where the right whales are known to gather on a seasonal basis for several months at a time between June and December. Mariners will avoid the area at this time.

In 2002, the International Maritime Organization made changes to ship traffic lanes in the Bay of Fundy, reducing the relative probability of a ship strike in this area by about 80 per cent.

Although the announcement is a recommendation to mariners, there has been positive feedback from the industry, saying they plan to comply. This is great news for Right whales and a wonderful tale to tell on this year's Blog Action Day for the Environment!

Photo from The Daily News, Halifax, Nova Scotia, October 11.

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