February 20, 2020
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Feds to aid lobstermen in coping with new whale protections

Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Robert F. Bukaty | AP
In this Sept. 13, 2017, file photo a lobster fishing boat motors out to sea at sunrise off South Portland, Maine.

PORTLAND, Maine — The U.S. government will boost efforts to help reduce risk to an endangered species of whale by providing assistance with new rules to fishermen.

There are about 400 North Atlantic right whales left in the world, and less than 100 breeding females, federal ocean managers said Friday. The whales have been the focus of conservation efforts for years, and the population has fallen in recent years because of accidental deaths and low reproduction.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it will use $1.6 million in federal money to reduce risk of entanglement in fishing gear to whales, and to assist the lobster fishing industry in implementing new management measures designed to protect the animals. NOAA is working on a whale protection plan that would result in the removal of some lobster trap rope from the waters off Maine.

NOAA said in a statement the money will “assist the lobster fishing industry in complying with pending regulations and help to defray the costs to support fishermen broadly.”

The first newborn right whale of the winter calving season was spotted off the coast of Georgia recently, scientists have said.

 


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