Encounter of minke whales with fishing gears.
The CCWHC Atlantic Region has dealt with the death of three minke whales around Prince Edward Island already this summer and is aware of at least another mortality on the Magdalen Islands. One of these animals had become entangled in lobster fishing gear. Lobster fishing is an activity that is economically important on the Island at this time of year, but also a fishery that appears to be commonly associated with whale entanglement in Eastern and Atlantic Canada and in the Gulf of Maine. Another of the three minke whales found dead on Prince Edward Island is also suspected to have been entangled in some fishing gear, based on what were tentatively interpreted as rope burns at the base of its tail. Minke whales are the smallest of the baleen whales, and therefore get quickly exhausted and drown when they become entangled.
Since 1993, the Atlantic regional centre has examined the carcasses of 16 minke whales that have died around Prince Edward Island. Of these, four were confirmed to have died as a result of entanglement in lobster fishing gears. In another six cases, a presumptive diagnosis of entanglement in fishing gears was made based on the presence of marks on the body that were suggestive, but not definite proof, of entanglement in ropes. A number of measures can be adopted by fishers to reduce the risk of entanglement by whales, many of which aim at reducing the amount of slack rope floating in the water. However, implementation of some of these measures can require a significant financial investment on the part of fishers. They would likely benefit from provincial or federal programs such as the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan in the United States, which is aimed at assisting fisheries to modify their equipment.