In light of the critical nature of the survival of the North Atlantic Right Whale, the jump to judgement by elected leaders has been a surprise and disappointment, creating the necessity for public hearings on recommendations that were agreed upon with input and support from all stakeholders in April of this year. A team composed of fishermen, federal and state fishery managers, conservationists and scientists met and agreed on measures to reduce deaths caused by entanglement in commercial fisheries. These were drafted and fully supported by all representatives of the fishing industry, as well as being unanimously supported by the entire Maine delegation at that time.

With this in mind, here is a summary of facts endangering the survival of this species; the real issue being the cruel nature of slow starvation and death of entangled whales.

• North Atlantic right whales are critically endangered. There are only about 400 left.

• Since 2017, we know that at least 28 right whales have been killed, while only 10 have been born.

• Right whales are not dying of natural causes – they are entangled in fishing gear or hit by ships.

• Entanglement causes whales to die from drowning or results in painful injuries that lead to long, drawn-out deaths from infection, starvation, or other impacts. Being caught in heavy fishing lines impacts the health of individuals, reducing their ability to eat, breed, and produce young – even for those that no longer carry the gear. ( as evidenced by the slow reproductive rates)

• Scientists estimate that 85 percent of right whales have been entangled at least once, and over 50 percent have been entangled multiple times.

• We all have a responsibility to end these human-caused, avoidable deaths.
An earlier letter to the Press Herald, dated Aug. 10, offers the view that whales and healthy fisheries can co- exist. I agree and hope all parties will come to the table to participate in a civil discussion that is fact based. Targeted closures where there is co -occurrence of lines and whales is one available solution. Let’s focus on a solution and not mislead the public by claims that fisheries will go out of business if new rules are implemented.

More whales mean healthy fisheries and oceans, and their presence in our waters is crucial to the long- term survival of all fisheries. It is time to share the good news with our hard -working fishermen.

Gina Garey

Portland


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