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Friday, November 27, 2009

East Coast fishermen adapt lobster fishing to protect endangered whales

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HALIFAX, N.S. — One of the world's most endangered marine mammals is getting some help from a small group of eastern Canadian fishermen who are trying to reduce a major threat to the animals by controlling the amount of lethal fishing line in the water.
Lobster fishermen on the East Coast are altering the way they set lobster traps and will steer clear of rare North Atlantic right whales as they pass through the Bay of Fundy in a bid to cut the number of times they get snarled in fishing line.
Starting Monday when the lobster season opens in parts of the Bay of Fundy, hundreds of lobster harvesters will be asked to set their groundlines on the ocean floor to limit floating ropes and protect the whales against one of their two main killers.
Hubert Saulnier, a veteran fisherman in the Bay of Fundy where many of the massive mammals go to feed in the summer, said the initiative should reduce the amount of fishing line that floats above the ocean floor and ensnares the whales.
"We decided to be proactive and do studies and see what works," he said from New Minas, N.S.
"The best solution is to try to explain to fishermen what we've experienced on how to set gear properly. ... It is a way to promote the fact that we should be involved a lot more and we should be informed a lot more."
Lines that link the lobster traps on the ocean bottom can be slack and close together, creating something like a noose that can wrap around the whales

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