Whale jumping. Page: North Atlantic Right Whales.

North Atlantic Right Whales: The Road to Recovery

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Simon L'Allier

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Roughly 83% of the population of the critically endangered North Atlantic Right Whale (NARW) showed evidence of at least one entanglement throughout their life, with 59% of those having been entangled more than once. Entanglements from fixed fishing gear, along with vessel strikes, have been leading causes of mortality in the species for years. With fewer than 350 NARWs remaining, they are at a critical point.

Local fishermen in the Gulf of Saint-Lawrence region and the government of Canada are working together to reduce mortalities, notably by placing temporary closures and developing and testing new whale-safe fishing gear. However, while this may help reduce mortalities, the impacts of climate change and other ecological problems may also affect the Gulf of St-Lawrence bioregion, an important feeding ground for the species. So will these efforts prove sufficient to help the species recover?