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Right whales: the coexistence between the species and humans studied by Lyne Morissette

Le souffle en V, la forme de la queue et les callosités blanches sur la tête du spécimen sont des indicateurs caractéristiques des baleines noires (courtoisie MPO)

Îles de la Madeleine

Better cohabitation between North Atlantic right whales and humans is imperative to ensure the survival of this endangered species, according to marine ecology and ecosystem researcher Lyne Morissette.

For the past five years, she has been studying the concept of coexistence between the two populations. In other words, she has been trying to determine the place that fishermen and mammals occupy in the Gulf of St. Lawrence ecosystem, while seeking to maximize the sustainability of the fisheries and biodiversity.

She indicates that, at the present time, there are two possible solutions: on the one hand, to rely on new technologies and, on the other hand, to adjust federal regulations.

In all cases, the expertise of marine workers must be used to determine the solutions, she says.

The development of fishing gear without ropes and earlier season openings are also part of Ms. Morissette’s recommendations in order to give fishermen the best possible chance and to limit the risks of entanglement or collisions for the whales.

The two main causes of right whale mortality are ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear.

The researcher is optimistic about the preservation of the species, of which there are less than 350 individuals left on the planet, and reminds us of the role it plays in marine ecosystems.

Lyne Morissette presented her work at the Fisheries Table on the right whale that was held in December in Gaspésie.

She hopes that her report will become a reference document on the subject when it is completed.

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