Entanglement in fishing gear is a leading cause of serious injury and death among endangered North Atlantic right whales. The current plan for reducing entanglement risk affects fixed gear commercial fishing operations in U.S. Atlantic waters, particularly trap/pot gear and gillnets.
The right whale population is small. Seeing an entanglement event is rare, and we do not often identify or retrieve entangling gear from whales. As a result, it is not feasible to calculate an absolute measure of entanglement risk posed by different gear in different locations. Direct comparison between risk reduction measures is also difficult.
Reviewers will evaluate the method -- a decision support tool -- developed to help understand relative risk of entanglement in different geographic locations, and the relative reduction in risk under different mitigation actions. Reviewers will also consider whether the work provides a scientifically credible basis for developing management advice. While the current model considers lobster trap/pot gear, we anticipate expansion of the model to other kinds of gear.
In their final reports, the reviewers will:
- Evaluate the data inputs used in the decision support tool.
- Evaluate the data outputs produced by the decision support tool.
- Comment on the appropriateness of using the decision support tool to evaluate relative entanglement risk to right whales; advise on the strengths and weaknesses of using it to compare management measures.
- Provide research recommendations to improve the decision support tool.
- Evaluate whether the methods represent the best available scientific approach for apportioning human-caused mortality by country.
Peer reviewers were selected by the Center for Independent Experts. They are:
- Dr. Julie van der Hoop, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA
- Dr. Jason How, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Padbury, Western Australia
- Dr. Don Bowen, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia
All times in the agenda are approximate, and may be changed at the discretion of the chair. The meeting is open to the public; however, during the report writing sessions we ask that the public refrain from engaging in discussion with the reviewers.
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