Cheri Patterson: (603) 868-1095
Jay Martin: (603) 271-3211
December 27, 2018
DURHAM, NH – The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department will hold a public informational meeting on Atlantic right whales and potential future considerations regarding the reduction of interactions with lobster fishing gear. The meeting will be held on Thursday, January 10, 2019 from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm at the Urban Forestry Center, 45 Elwyn Road, in Portsmouth, NH. The public is encouraged to attend to learn more about the population status of North Atlantic right whales and the factors that are contributing to their decline.
The North Atlantic right whale is the world’s most endangered large whale species, and is protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. Their population has been in decline since 2010. Since 2017, there have been 19 recorded right whale deaths leaving less than 437 individuals in the population. No calves were born in 2018.
The decline in right whale numbers is attributed to low birth rates and human-related interactions such as fishing gear entanglements and collisions with ships. Their habitat is shared with productive fixed-gear fisheries such as lobster fishing, and studies have shown that 85% of right whales have been entangled in fishing gear at least once.
This meeting will inform the public on the current conditions of the North Atlantic right whale population, factors contributing to their decline, and how the current ecosystem is challenging migration, feeding, and fishing behaviors, thus potentially increasing the interaction rate between fishing gear and whales.
The Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team will meet in March to discuss modifications to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is interested in facilitating an informative discussion with lobster harvesters regarding ways to reduce interactions between whales and fishing gear prior to the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team meeting.