Marine conservation efforts have received another blow as it has been announced that the endangered right whales are facing the danger of being extinct in one year. The federal government has stated that new protection and conservation steps are required immediately to prevent this species from completely dying out.
The right whale species has had a perilous year in 2017, with 17 out of its total population of 450 dying so far, all of them in New England and Canada. Factors responsible for their endangerment are commercial fishing, collision with vessels and poor reproduction.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has stated that the situation is so serious that it cannot be rectified without active efforts from American and Canadian regulators. This year has seen high mortality rates and there are only 100 breeding North Atlantic right whales left in the world, says John Bullard, the Northeast Regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries.
The announcement was made on Tuesday at a meeting of the regulatory New England Fishery Management Council, reports AP. "You do have to use the extinction word because that's where the trend lines say they are," Bullard said. "That's something we can't let happen." Reportedly, the whale population, especially females, has been declining since 2010. The US and Canada have to work together to save these creatures of the Atlantic Ocean.
The reasons for the increased death rate have been pinned to two factors. A study in the journal Nature Scientific Reports has said that the whales are being killed as they are leaving their natural habitat and venturing to new unprotected areas in search of food.
Another study in Endangered Species Research said that the whales who have had human encounters and been tangled in fishing nets have shown high stress hormone levels, which affects their reproduction capability. Ways of conducting fishing without letting these whales getting entangled in nets is a matter of concern for scientists.
The IUCN Red List has categorised North Atlantic right whales as "Endangered" and under the critical number of 250. Another right whale species, the North Pacific right whales, have been categories as "Endangered" as well. As this species is primarily found near coasts of Japan, it is a high possibility that Japanese commercial fishing activities have resulted in the depletion of its numbers.
Recommendations for conserving right whales have been made by NOAA as a part of its five-year plan. This includes monitoring its population trends, habitats and studying and preventing the effects of commercial fishing on these marine animals.