North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis) Scenario Planning Summary Report
NOAA Fisheries published the North Atlantic Right Whale Scenario Planning Summary Report from an agency-led planning exercise in 2018. The exercise is meant to complement and enhance the many important ongoing efforts to recover right whales.
The North Atlantic Right Whale Scenario Planning Summary Report summarizes the discussions and recommendations from a NOAA Fisheries led exercise held in 2018, where experts explored plausible future conditions for North Atlantic right whales and developed possible options to address these conditions to improve recovery. An array of federal participants with expertise in right whale-related science and management participated in two webinars and two face-to-face meetings (a two-day subgroup meeting from May 14-15, 2018 and a two-day full group workshop from June 25-26, 2018) convened at the Greater Atlantic Fisheries Regional Office in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Specific objectives were to: 1) better understand the challenges of right whale management in changing conditions; 2) identify potential research activities and recovery needs across the species’ range; 3) increase coordination and collaboration related to recovery efforts; and 4) explore how scenario planning can be used to support decisions. Workshop discussions reaffirmed the importance and need to continue efforts to reduce impacts from vessel strike and fishery entanglements into the future. Participants also identified new, emerging threats and helped to highlight the importance of putting additional resources/efforts towards novel actions (e.g., expanded tagging efforts appropriate for right whales, new modeling efforts on climate and zooplankton, and developing emergency response plans for episodic events like harmful algal blooms or oil spills). We identified priority actions related to science, management, and partnerships including, but not limited to: 1) research shifting spatial and temporal distributions of right whales and prey in a changing climate; 2) develop technology to further reduce impacts from human activities; 3) continue ongoing management efforts related to vessel traffic and fishing; and 4) maintain existing and develop new partnerships (e.g., industry engagement in problem solving). The report will be a useful reference for considering how to recover right whales in changing conditions. We will continue to work with our partners (e.g., other state and federal agencies, Canadian government, fish and shipping industries, scientists, conservationists, etc.) to optimize North Atlantic right whale recovery in the future.