North Atlantic right whales is one of the most endangered large whale species of the world. Only around 400 of these magnificent baleen whales now exist in the world. They are lives are in danger because of a commonly used fishing practise.
North Atlantic right whales depend on small fishes and krill as they food source. They hunt by diving deep into the oceans by keeping their mouths open wide open allowing the entry of fish into their mouths. Then using their baleen plates they trap the fish inside by the straining the water away.
Crab or lobster fishing involves placing traps on the ocean floor that are connected to a surface buoy using a sturdy line. The lines routinely injure these whales by cutting into their opens mouths or fins as they dive for hunting. The whales are unable to notice these lines until it’s too late. As they try to move on, sometimes the ropes end up getting tangled around them.
The ropes connect as many as 40 traps strung along different lengths of the line and weighs more than a ton. North America’s eastern seaboard is covered with a number of such fishing lines and unfortunately the area comes in the migration path of these whales.
The whales that get tangled in these lines might have trouble reproducing or even die due to starvation. A recent study reports that nearly 60 percent of diagnosed North Atlantic whale deaths over a 15 year period is due to fishing line entanglement.
It is clear that the only way to save this almost extinct species is to stop the practise of vertical line fishing. Ropeless solution to lobster fishing is already available commercially in Australia. Similar technologies have also been developed by US and Canadian governments. A quick enforced regulation of lobster farming can help ensure the survival of North Atlantic right whale species.