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Injured Right Whale Dragon Photo: Northeast Fisheries Science Center
USA Today reported late Friday that government scientists have spotted off 45 miles off the coast of Nantucket a 19-year-old female right whale named “Dragon” appears to be in poor health because of a fishing buoy lodged in one corner of her mouth. She is the second entangled right whale seen in the area south of Nantucket, where around 60 of these endangered animals are now gathered — the previous one was a 15-year-old male right whale was seen with three lines trailing from his mouth. North Atlantic Right Whales are highly endangered and only approximately 400 remain.
Why This Matters: It’s not just one or two whales — the fate of the species hangs in the balance. If this whale dies, we will lose another breeding female that was heading into her prime. We can and must do better by these magnificent creatures. An ocean without whales is like a savannah without lions. Our government spends money on so many things that are so much less impactful than saving an entire species. The technology exists to solve this problem (read on) — and it’s not that expensive. All we lack is the will to do it. This week the Boston Globe said it best in an editorial entitled “It’s the government’s duty to save right whales — and us.” Yep. C’mon Congress and NOAA. It is time to get this done.
“The first step is to fund North Atlantic right whale researchers to track the whales’ new swimming routes, believed to be caused by climate change. Such tracking would encompass local, national, and international waters, and the cooperation of governments, industries, boaters, and nongovernmental organizations to see where the whales go and establish safe boating routes.”
Finally, the government and perhaps philanthropic organizations should provide funding. “Funding — for both the research and retrofitting of the lobster industry’s gear. The first few generations of this essential technologically advanced gear will be cost-prohibitive for the men and women who have already been hard hit by federal fishing regulations (made necessary by human threats) that are destroying their livelihoods.”
Ten years after the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster, the Japanese government announced that it will release treated radioactive water from the destroyed plant into the ocean beginning in 2023. The decision to dump more than 1 million metric tons of contaminated water into the Pacific ocean has upset local fishers and surrounding countries.
Why This Matters: A decade after a 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami led to a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the decision to release water into the ocean is just one part of the prolonged decommissioning of the plant.
Hundreds of citizens will fan out across the nation’s capital next week to meet with lawmakers in what’s projected to be the largest ocean lobby effort in US history. On Tuesday and Wednesday, they will meet with Biden administration officials, federal agencies, and members of Congress for a nonpartisan Ocean Climate Action Hill Day.
Why It Matters: As the Biden administration and the Congress begin to debate what’s infrastructure and therefore within the American Jobs Plan, the blue economy needs to be front and center in it.
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