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Marine Shipping Environmental Forum Addresses Right Whale and Nuisance Species Issues
June 4, 1998
Salem, Massachusetts -- The Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment, made up of high-ranking environmental officials and business people from northern New England and eastern Canada, hosted a Marine Shipping Environmental Forum today. Experts exchanged information with Council members on:
"I'm happy to see the Gulf of Maine Council support efforts that bring these issues to the forefront," said Trudy Coxe, outgoing Council Chair and Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. "Ship strikes and exotic species introductions are top issues in marine environmental management today - and there are no good guys or bad guys here. This forum brings the shipping industry, government, and environmental interests to the table to discuss cooperative strategies to deal with these multi-faceted issues."
"Approximately 300 right whales survive in the Western North Atlantic, and ship strikes are the primary cause of documented mortalities and could be significantly impacting this species' survival," stated Amy Knowlton, Research Scientist at the New England Aquarium, as she initiated the discussion on right whales. "Working collaboratively with the shipping industry will be the key to tackling this issue, and the starting point here is education."
Captain Joe Murphy of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy provided the industry perspective on this complicated issue. "Obviously any restrictions placed on northeast ports to protect right whales will adversely affect the ports already fragile viability," said Murphy. "The key to success on this issue is education and we've only just begun educating mariners on responsible shipping practices in regard to right whales."
On exotic species, Robert Peoples, Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force began the discussion. "Non-indigenous species affect many segments of society and create problems that are increasingly being addressed by all levels of government in many jurisdictions - but more needs to be done," he stated. "Extensive coordination of the diverse activities of the many entities involved will be essential if these efforts are to be effective."
The potential for a species invasion, which could have extreme environmental and economic consequences, rises as international shipping speed continue to increase.
"As shipping time becomes shorter due to faster vessels, a larger number of species are able to survive the journey and thrive in the waters of their vessel's destination," said Peoples, "and the environmental and economic impacts are increasingly problematic."
In addition, the following expert panelists also spoke at the forum:
Right Whale/Ship Strike Speakers
Ballast Water/Exotic Species Speakers
The Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment is an international body brought together
to foster cross-border cooperation among government, academic, and private groups. The goal of the
Council is to develop and implement a sustainable management strategy for the Gulf, which extends from
Nantucket to Cape Sable, Nova Scotia. Public and private representatives from Massachusetts, New
Hampshire, Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia oversee the Gulf of Maine Program and its activities
in marine monitoring, habitat protection, public education, and pollution prevention. The members of the
Gulf of Maine Council from Massachusetts are Trudy Coxe, Secretary of the Executive Office of
Environmental Affairs and 1997-1998 Secretariat of the Gulf of Maine Council, Peg Brady, the Director of
Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management, and Elizabeth Kay, an environmental communications
strategist. For more information, please visit the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment's webpage at www.gulfofmaine.org.