Saturday, June 30, 2007

NOAA announces rule to protect North Atlantic Right Whales

NOAA Fisheries Service finalized a rule implementing permanent annual restrictions on gillnet fishing in the Southeast U.S. during right whale calving season which is Nov. 15 to April 15. The rule was published in the Federal Register on Monday (72 FR 34632) and regulations take effect on July 25.The waters off the Southeast U.S. are the only known calving area for North Atlantic right whales. This area is predominantly used by reproducing females and their calves from November to April each year. Entanglement in fixed fishing gear is one of the threats to this species. There may be as few as 300 North Atlantic right whales left."Calving right whales represent the future of this endangered species," said Bill Hogarth, director of NOAA Fisheries Service. "We are implementing this rule to protect females and their calves while they are in this critical area."The final rule includes the following actions:(1) Expands the Southeast U.S. Restricted Area to include waters within 35 nautical miles of the South Carolina coast (south of the Little River Inlet at the South Carolina/North Carolina border).(2) Divides the Southeast U.S. Restricted Area at 29*00' N latitude into two areas - Southeast U.S. Restricted Areas North and South.(3) Restricts gillnetting within the Southeast U.S Restricted Area during the right whale calving season.Specifically, the rule prohibits gillnet fishing and possession in the Southeast U.S. Restricted Area North each year from Nov. 15-April 15, with an exemption for transiting through this area if gear is stowed in accordance with the rule. Gillnet fishing is prohibited annually in the Southeast U.S. Restricted Area South from Dec. 1-March 31, with limited exemptions for gillnet fishing for sharks and Spanish mackerel. The final rule is based on the proposed rule and public comments received on the proposed rule.During the 2006-2007 calving season, 20 births and 2 calf mortalities were recorded.North Atlantic right whales are listed as "Endangered" under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Small Whale Washes Ashore Florida

Mary Maurie was swimming with her grandson just north of Crescent Beach when they spotted what they thought was a sluggish dolphin just feet away from them."I said, 'We better go follow it' because I'm always saving everything," Maurie said. "We followed it and it started to roll, and then I knew it was hurt."It was hurt or sick, and the animal washed all the way up to the sand. That's when Maurie and her grandson went into action. They poured buckets of water on the mammal and placed wet towels on it. Maurie had someone call 911. A crowd started to gather.The animal was actually a 7 foot long, 250 pound pygmy sperm whale.Biologists say that kind of whale is out in the Atlantic near Florida, but rarely do they come close to shore unless they are sick.Despite all the effort, the small whale died. It was taken to the Florida Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg where a necropsy will be performed.As for Maurie, she didn't want to tell her grandson the whale had died. She wanted the animal to make it as well. It had seemed so friendly when it was in the water close to them.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Ask your representative to vote YES on H Con Res 94 and help end harmful fishing subsidies

President Bush just declared June National Oceans Month. And now, the House of Representatives is voting on a resolution which would urge the Administration to be an international leader in ending overfishing subsidies. >;>Take Action: Ask your representative to vote YES and help end harmful fishing subsidies! Despite international consensus that the world's oceans are in trouble, a handful of countries continue to provide massive subsidies to their commercial fishing industries so they can fish harder, longer and farther away. Overfishing subsidies are fishing our oceans to death. A recent study found that 90 percent of all of the "big" fish -- tuna, marlin, and swordfish -- are gone. Fishing subsidies enable too many boats to fish for fewer and fewer fish, which in turn leads to overfishing and other destructive fishing practices. The United States is leading efforts in the World Trade Organization to ban these harmful subsidies. Weeks ago, the Senate passed a resolution supporting this effort, and now the House of Representatives is poised to do the same. Please contact Congress and ask your representative to vote YES on the resolution (H. Con. Res. 94) to help eliminate harmful fishing subsidies! This bill will be voted on early next week so please contact your member of Congress today. The elimination of overfishing subsidies now will help protect the world's fisheries for the future. Send your letter today! For the oceans,Beth LowellFederal Policy Director

Ask your representative to vote YES on House Resolution 94 and help us eliminate fishing subsidies.