According to the latest estimate, the population of the critically endangered North Atlantic right whales has stabilized, positive news after a decade of decline, and measures taken in Canada are proven to work to safeguard the mighty cetacean further.
“The slowing down of the decline is sort of the first good news that we’ve had in a long time,” states Phillip Hamilton, a senior scientist at the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium. “That is the significance. It really has to be tempered by the truth that it is still in decline and there are a lot of sub-lethal injuries.”
Every Fall, the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium – composed of Canadian and American scientists – releases its best population estimate of the cetacean. The 2021 estimate was of 340 North Atlantic right whales, then recalculated to 365 due to the number of calves born that year. For 2022, the estimate was 356. In Canada, there have been no North Atlantic right whale deaths since 2019 following the imposition of shutdowns and lower ship speed limits. Also, a visual or acoustic detection halts fishing in a 2,000-km2 area for all non-tended fixed gear for 15 days. It seems like those measures made a difference.