The millions of lines tied to the pots and traps used by lobster and crab fisheries in the western North Atlantic region continue to pose a considerable entanglement risk to the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale. An adult male right whale—dubbed “Argo”—was spotted in late January dragging 157 feet of line and two wire mesh traps from his tail and flukes. The gear was later confirmed to have come from a fishing area off Nova Scotia. Although Argo was eventually freed, concerns remain about his health, as well as the health of three other right whales known to date to have become entangled in fishing gear this year.
AWI and allies are calling on the lobster industry to move toward ropeless fishing gear to prevent the suffering caused by entanglement and help avert the extinction of the North Atlantic right whale. In conjunction with NRDC, AWI has launched a “Future Is Ropeless” website to educate consumers on the issue and encourage them to call on retailers and fish buyers to support the transition to ropeless fishing gear. The campaign kicked off in mid-March in Boston during Seafood Expo North America (SENA)—among the world’s largest seafood industry trade shows. During the expo, a mobile billboard was prominently displayed throughout the area surrounding the convention center where SENA was held.