Today, NOAA Fisheries is releasing its draft Ropeless Roadmap: A Strategy to Develop On-Demand Fishing for public input. The Roadmap is an important step in a series of actions NOAA Fisheries is taking to protect and conserve North Atlantic right whales. NOAA Fisheries and our partners are dedicated to conserving and rebuilding the North Atlantic right whale population.
North Atlantic right whales are approaching extinction with fewer than 350 individuals and fewer than 100 reproductively active females remaining. Entanglement remains a pressing and ongoing challenge and a threat to species survival.
Entanglement happens wherever fixed gear fisheries occur – it’s a global problem. In addition to entanglement and other challenges, changing climate, and more specifically oceanographic changes in the Northwest Atlantic, are key factors contributing to reduced reproduction and higher susceptibility to human-caused threats.
The report describes the current state of on-demand, or “ropeless,” fishing and outlines a path for increasing adoption of this technology in commercial fisheries in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. We discuss this developing technology and forecast its future based on what is known about operation of the gear, ongoing regulatory changes, and demands for increased entanglement mortality risk reduction under the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act.
We recognize that there are many partners who are key to this process and strategy, particularly state fishery managers. Because this technology is still in development, public input is invaluable. Presentation of the roadmap at meetings of the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team, New England Fishery Management Council and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will provide a venue for input.
We will work to carry on a dialogue and use the feedback to guide our on-demand program moving forward. You may provide feedback using our form.