Entanglement in commercial fishing gear kills or seriously injures about 3 right whales and nearly 10 humpback whales every year off the U.S. coasts of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. The Marine Mammal Protection Act allows only about 1 right and 3 humpback whales to be “removed” annually.
In a forthcoming issue of Conservation Biology, scientists calculate that weakening ropes by around 35 percent would help almost three-quarters of entangled whales break free. This reduction would not damage commercial fishing yields and would cut whale deaths to legal levels, the scientists say.
Breaking weight of commercial fishing ropes that would allow whales to wriggle free
Average breaking weight of current commercial fishing ropes examined in the study
Proportion of entangled large whales that could be saved with weaker ropes