Why is the North Atlantic Right Whale endangered?
For centuries the North Atlantic Right Whale was the most prized by whale hunters. Since they live close to the shoreline and are among the most docile whales, they became easy targets. Their high blubber content made them profitable to exploit and the blubbers low density meant they would float for long periods after a kill. They became ideal targets and thus earned their name as the “right” whale to hunt.
Over harvesting quickly diminished their numbers to around 350 individuals in the western North Atlantic and functionally extinct in the eastern North Atlantic.
The Threat Caused By Float Rope
Just as they came under the protection of the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act a new threat confronted them – float rope from fixed line fishing. Lines of rope used to connect lobster traps to surface buoys often become detached due to rough waters, collisions with boats, and other nautical hazards. Also, lobstermen use rope to tether their traps together on the ocean floor .
For years lobster fishermen used colorful float-rope. When it became loose and drifted out to sea, or was tethered to their multiple traps on the ocean floor, marine scientists discovered that it was entangling North Atlantic Right Whales. This was causing an alarming number to drown or be injured. In 2009 a federal regulation outlawed float-rope, requiring lobstermen to discard this rope and replace it with sinking, or sink-rope.
What to do? Enter Maine Float-Rope Company.
To prevent the float-rope from going to landfills, a market to compensate lobstermen needed to be created. Entrepreneur, Penny Johnston quickly saw an opportunity to help and formed the Maine Float-Rope Company. With her design ability and it makes beautiful, durable doormats and runners from what otherwise would be thousands of pounds of discarded rope.