Right whales: senators suspect a laxity in Ottawa

Baleines noires: des sénateurs américains soupçonnent un laxisme à Ottawa

PORTLAND, Maine – The senate democrats of the east coast of the United States are asking themselves whether Canada done enough to protect endangered whales from extinction.

This group of senators, led by Edward Markey, of Massachusetts, refers in particular to the threat of extinction which weighs on the right whales of the North Atlantic. There would have been more than 450 of these whales; however, 17 died last year, including 12 in Canada, recall u.s. senators. Senator Markey asked if the canadian fishermen are subject to rules as stringent as the Americans.

These elected democrats are asking the u.s. Agency for ocean observation and atmospheric (NOAA) to examine the canadian standards for conservation of the right whales of the North Atlantic. The senators are even talking about a possible embargo on certain imports of canadian seafood if standards were judged to be too flexible.

The us imports of seafood were worth more than US $ 3.3 billion in 2017.

The canadian government and american scientists have greeted with caution this initiative.

A spokesman for Fisheries and Oceans Canada has indicated that Ottawa wanted to avoid any negative impact on the trade relations between the two countries. Lauren Sankey ensures that the canadian government will cooperate with the u.s. government. But she reminds us that Ottawa has just adopted new measures to protect whales, including more stringent standards for the cables that connect to the buoys lobster traps and crab.

Most of the dead whales last year entangled in fishing gear or have been hit by large ships.

Regina Asmutis-Silvia, biologist from a body of defense of the whales at Plymouth, Massachusetts, does not believe that the best way to save right whales to be taken in Canada. It considers rather that the focus should be on the measures of protection in u.s. waters, where whales are also dead last year.

“It is now necessary to assess the effectiveness of mitigation measures put in place in Canada,” said Ms. Asmutis-Silvia.

The other senators in the group are drawn from Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Delaware, but not the Maine, the neighboring State of Canada on the East coast.

The spokesperson for the NOAA, Kate Brogan, said on Tuesday that the request of the senators will be investigated. “The agency works closely with Canada to ensure the effectiveness of the measures that have been put in place to ensure that whales do not entangle in the ropes, whether in canadian waters or in the u.s.”, she clarified, however.

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