American conservation groups are urging the U.S. government to apply pressure Canada to do more to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale and avoid imposing a ban on various Canadian seafood products.
Nine U.S.-based organizations have sent an 11-page letter to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expressing “deep concern” over the continued entanglement of right whales in Canadian waters.
They point out the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act requires a ban on the import of fish, crab and lobster caught with gear that results in the killing or serious injury of marine mammals “in excess of United States standards.”
They say current bycatch measures in Canada are not comparable to those in U.S. fisheries and that’s a situation that has to change.
The groups say Canada should immediately strengthen its right whale protections in order to avoid an import ban and to “help save the species from extinction.”
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NOAA announced the first death of a right whale in American waters on Tuesday, while eight have died in Canadian waters this summer out of a population numbering only about 400 animals.
Twenty-nine right whales have died in North American waters since 2017.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2019.