Canada-U.S. dispute emerges over right whale killed by entanglement with fishing gear

HALIFAX — Canadian officials are challenging a draft report from their American colleagues that alleges fishing gear from Canada is to blame for the entanglement of a North Atlantic right whale found dead off South Carolina.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada issued a statement this week saying its analysis has determined the gear, retrieved after the whale known as Cottontail was found dead in February, likely came from an American fishing boat.

The statement says Canadian officials believe the gear had been used in the U.S. fishery somewhere between Long Island, N.Y., and South Carolina, and that they point to the southern nearshore fishery, where whale surveillance is limited.

Canadian officials say they examined gear with officials from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A spokeswoman for NOAA confirmed the results of their draft report are at odds with the Canadian findings, but Jennifer Goebel stressed that the American agency has yet to review the Canadian data.

She says NOAA's final report may arrive at a different conclusion once all the evidence has been examined. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 1, 2021.

The Canadian Press