To the editor:
This is in response to the Jan. 25 article “Decision due this week on seasonal lobstering ban.”
Hazards and stressors of fishing gear entanglement, vessel strikes, human-generated marine noise and climate change-induced changes in prey distribution and availability are to blame for the current plight of the North American right whale. The population of endangered whales was estimated at 408 in 2018, of which only 95 were breeding females, a disproportionate and widening gap. Females take 10 years to reach breeding maturity and give birth to one calf at a time, with a recovery period between pregnancies of three to five years normally, nowadays between six and 10 years.
We must act on this knowledge, and do so swiftly as the trajectory is in the wrong direction and will take time to correct. The protective measures proposed by the state Division of Marine Fisheries and Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction team will require significant adaptation by lobstermen, but if provided with the proper support, they can make the change. Indeed, since the 1800s, the U.S. and Canadian industries have collaborated on regulations that have made the lobster industry a poster child for well-managed fisheries. We must take every care to not harm the long-term prospects of our fisheries and aquatic ecosystems in exchange for short-term regulatory avoidance. As those who get their livelihood from the sea know well, everything is connected, so taking the necessary steps to protect the right whale is ultimately in the best interest of all.