Killing Whales by Design and Default

SeaDiscovery.com
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Only about 500 North Atlantic Right whales are in existence today. This image of an entangled right whale was taken by CCS under NOAA permit 932-1489. (Photo courtesy of the Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies)

While countries such as Japan, Norway and Iceland often are criticized for their commercial whaling practices, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) marine biologist Michael Moore points out how the majority of nations are also complicit in killing whales by deploying commercial fishing gear.


Moore cites scientific literature, necropsy reports and individual case studies in an editorial essay addressing the ethics of whale entanglement and commercial whaling to be published Friday in ICES Journal of Marine Science.


Moore, a veterinarian and the Director of the WHOI Marine Mammal Center, has studied large whale mortality throughout his career, first as an observer for the International Whaling Commission on an Icelandic whaling vessel and currently, as one of the few experts called to respond to whale strandings and entanglements along the East Coast of the U.S.


He has responded to and performed necropsies on numerous large stranded whales. Many of these animals had died from months of starvation and fatigue after being entangled in rope, line, and nets from fishing and lobster gear.
“I’ve spent over 15 years examining these animals and feel pretty frustrated in terms of the fact that our consumption of seafood is driving these cases to exist,” said Moore.


He was motivated to write this editorial to inform the public about the impact of both commercial whaling and commercial fishing practices on the survival and welfare of whales.


“I feel burdened by the knowledge I’ve gained about the suffering of these animals such that I don’t feel I can walk away without trying to prevent it,” he said.
 


Whaling by default
“The threat of commercial whaling is widely known, but many thousands of whales, dolphins, and porpoises die each year through unintentional entanglement in commercial fishing gear,” said Sharon B. Young, Marine Issues Field Director for the Humane Society of the U.S.
 


Although large whales are powerful enough to break away from anchored fishing gear, they often swim off with residual gear wrapped around their appendages, which adds substantial drag inhibiting their ability to dive and forage. Being entangled slowly drains their energy to swim and fight infections. If not disentangled, the animal ultimately dies.



“We've seen through our stranding response the devastating effects of entanglement on these animals. The chronic nature of entanglement leads to a long, slow, and painful death. It’s important to make this part of our discussion about the conservation of these species,” said Katie Moore, Director of Animal Rescue for the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).


“We have a responsibility to the species we chose to protect when the Marine Mammal Protection Act and Endangered Species Act were enacted in the early 1970s. We need to do a better job of minimizing and ultimately eliminating opportunities for entanglement. There are only winners in this scenario: no whales die, fishermen don’t lose their gear, and research efforts can be focused elsewhere,” said Robert Rocha, Science Director for the New Bedford Whaling Museum.


Death by fishing gear entanglement is the most commonly diagnosed cause of death among eight large whale species on the eastern North American Continental shelf.



“We’re hopeful that, as people are made aware of the suffering and death, more can be done to stop it,” said Sharon B. Young, Marine Issues Field Director for the Humane Society of the U.S.
 


One solution Michael Moore proposes is the creation of Marine Protected Areas where marine mammals are known to frequent.


“As long as the whales are foraging in the same habitat where the fishermen are harvesting, there is the risk of a conflict between the gear and the whales. To the extent that’s practical and economical, the more we can actually separate the two activities in time and space, the lower the risk of entanglement will become,” he said.


In his essay “How We All Kill Whales,” Moore shows us the view from his unique perspective as a former scientific observer of the commercial whaling industry and as a veterinarian. In the former role, his primary concern focused on the sustainability of the hunt and the efficacy of the explosive harpoon technology. In the latter role as a veterinarian responding to an entangled whale, the animal’s welfare is his primary concern.


“Watching an entangled whale dying, ties my heart in knots. There’s no question about that,” he said.


That’s why he is calling for more scrutiny of all whaling practices whether they are by design or by default. He also is presenting his findings to other stakeholders to raise public awareness and work towards solutions to this problem.
For more information and to support this work, visit the WHOI Marine Mammal Center.

Maritime Reporter March 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

Coast Guard Academy Cadet to Receive Fulbright Scholarship

Stephen Horvath, a first class cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, was recently granted a two-year Fulbright Scholarship to study renewable energy technologies

Ecochlor Presents BWTS Case Study at CMA

Ballast water treatment technology developer Ecochlor Inc. presented a project case study yesterday at CMA Shipping 2015 in Stamford, Conn. The case study covered

Golden Ocean and Knightsbridge Complete Merger

The merger between Knightsbridge Shipping Limited and Golden Ocean Group Limited was approved today at special meetings of both companies' shareholders.      The new company,

Environmental

ABB, Samsung SDI JV to Develop Microgrids Globally

ABB and Samsung SDI have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote microgrid solutions globally. The two companies will establish a global commercial alliance

Icebreaker Murmansk Launched at Arctech Helsinki Shipyard

The 16 MW Icebreaker for the Russian Ministry of Transport was launched at Arctech Helsinki Shipyard on March 25th, 2015. Before floating the vessel, she was

EALs & Oil Spill Remediation

EALs & Oil Spill Remediation: The Effects of EALs on Oil Spill and Discharge Reporting and Remediation In the wake of increased environmental scrutiny and potentially expanding liability issues,

News

Carnival to Add Nine Ships to Cruise Fleet

Carnival Corporation enters into strategic partnerships to add nine cruise ships to its fleet over a four-year period starting in 2019; shipbuilders Fincantieri

Coast Guard Academy Cadet to Receive Fulbright Scholarship

Stephen Horvath, a first class cadet at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, was recently granted a two-year Fulbright Scholarship to study renewable energy technologies

Ecochlor Presents BWTS Case Study at CMA

Ballast water treatment technology developer Ecochlor Inc. presented a project case study yesterday at CMA Shipping 2015 in Stamford, Conn. The case study covered

Marine Science

Salvage, Wreck Removal Beset with Chronic Problems

The basic nature of maritime casualties, salvage and wreck removal has evolved rapidly over the last few years. Ships and offshore constructions have become more technologically elaborate,

Moskito to Recover Oil from Sunken Wrecks

A tool for removing oil in submerged vessels was developed in Norway by Miko Marine. Moskito is designed to address the pollution threat that exists with the

Kvichak to Build Catamaran Research Vessel

Kvichak Marine Industries, Inc. was recently awarded a contract for construction of a 60’ aluminum catamaran research vessel for the California Department of Water

Maritime Safety

Greek Ferry Runs Aground in the Aegean

A Greek ferry ran aground on the Aegean island of Kassos overnight, the AP is reporting.      None of the 227 passengers and 55 crew were injured and a tug

US Will Work to Ensure Bab-el-Mandeb Strait Remains Open

The U.S. military will work with Gulf and European partners to ensure the strategic Bab el-Mandeb Strait at the tip of the Red Sea remains open to commerce despite fighting and instability in Yemen,

BMT’s REMBRANDT-INLAND Simulation Tool

Brown Water Training and Collision Reconstruction Taken to a New Level When a new or expanded port is planned on an inland waterway, how do you assure the civil

Ocean Observation

Expanded Panama Canal to be Operational by April 2015

The widened Panama Canal is expected to finally be up and running in April 2016, after months of delays and cost overruns, AFP reports. The expansion project area will allow bigger ships to transit,

Kvichak to Build Catamaran Research Vessel

Kvichak Marine Industries, Inc. was recently awarded a contract for construction of a 60’ aluminum catamaran research vessel for the California Department of Water

BOEM Issues Offshore Wind Energy Research Lease

BOEM issues first wind energy research lease in Federal offshore waters   The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has executed a wind energy research

 
 
Maritime Security Maritime Standards Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2253 sec (4 req/sec)