USA: Sighting of 75 endangered whales leads to no-fishing zone

1st Jul 2002 Federal officials have created a temporary no-fishing zone east of Nantucket Island after 75 endangered North Atlantic right whales were sighted in the area.

The no-fishing zone would begin Monday and last for 15 days, but could be extended, National Marine Fisheries Service spokesman George Liles said.

"We know where they are, we know they get entangled, we know there's significant amount of line that will go in the water unless we do something," Liles said.

Liles said he had never seen so many of the whales in one place. The 75 whales could represent a quarter of the whales' total population.

Rules allowing Dynamic Area Management zones, restricting fishing when three or more whales are spotted within 75-square nautical miles, were created last fall.

The zones were proposed after last summer's highly publicized plight of a right whale, dubbed Churchill, which got caught in marine rope. He was presumed dead after six failed rescue attempts.

Also Thursday, The Humane Society asked the Navy to halt bombing near the Sharrer Ridge, about 60 miles northeast of Cape Cod. The society said right whales live in the area.