June 16, 2016. Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton today announced $180,000 for the New England Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life to develop a modified rope for fishermen to reduce entangled endangered whales and other marine species. An additional $19,000 grant from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET) for the South Shore Lobster Fishermen’s Association to field test the rope developed by the New England Aquarium was also announced.
“Reduced breaking strength rope could be a critical tool in reducing North Atlantic right whale mortality and preserving this majestic species,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “With this funding, our administration continues to act upon our commitment to protecting native species while also supporting Massachusetts’ vital commercial fishing industry.”
“With approximately 525 North Atlantic right whales remaining, entanglements with fishing rope are a problem that must be addressed,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Through the work of the New England Aquarium and South Shore Lobster Fishermen’s Association, we will not only protect whales off the Massachusetts coast, but will also provide guidance to fishermen, managers and researchers all over the world who are grappling with this problem.”
Research by the New England Aquarium has shown a connection between the severity of whale entanglements and the breaking strength of ropes. With the $180,000 grant from EEA, the New England Aquarium will work to develop a reduced breaking strength rope that is workable for the fishing industry and could minimize the severity of whale entanglements. The rope will likely have a breaking strength of 1700 lbs or less, as well as colors that may be more visible to whales.
---From the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life