Golden Calls on NOAA to Share Findings of Causes of Recent Whale Strandings “... in the past two months alone, the Marine Mammal Stranding Network has reported at least 18 cases of whales found washed ashore along the Atlantic Coast.”
WASHINGTON — Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) sent a letter yesterday to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) urging the agency to release additional information on its investigation protocol and how it shares findings with the public regarding the causes of a recent increase in whale strandings along the Atlantic Coast. “...In the past two months alone, the Marine Mammal Stranding Network has reported at least 18 cases of whales found washed ashore along the
Atlantic Coast…,” wrote Congressman Golden. “NOAA is responsible for collecting information on strandings and must compile and analyze the conditions and causes of illnesses and deaths of stranded marine mammals. NOAA must also collect information on other life history and reference level data, including marine mammal tissue analyses, that would allow for the comparison of the causes of illness and deaths in stranded marine mammals based on physical, chemical, and biological environmental parameters. The information is gathered by Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program (MMHSRP) networks and submitted to the National Marine Fisheries Service. ” While the Marine Mammal Stranding Network is responsible for tracking and reporting strandings, NOAA is responsible for collecting information on strandings and must compile and analyze the conditions and causes of illnesses and deaths of stranded marine mammals. The data compiled by these organizations, including NOAA, is divided into three levels – A, B, and C. Level A Data is basic data made available to the public, but Levels B and C data, which explains autopsy findings and offers speculations as to cause of death, is proprietary.
“Given that the sudden increase in whale deaths is occurring at a time when the Biden Administration proceeds with authorizing large-scale commercial offshore wind (OSW) projects along the East Coast, we believe it is imperative that NOAA make Level B and C data from these strandings, if collected, available to the public so that all ocean stakeholders can better understand if OSW activities are causing serious injuries or mortalities to whales and to ensure that the federal government is mitigating any potential negative consequences on marine life from OSW development,” continues Golden. “The lobster industry has been working diligently to reduce risk to right whales even without any deaths attributed to the Maine fishery. We applaud Representative Golden for asking the tough questions on behalf of Maine’s fishing communities, requesting some transparency in necropsy results, and helping us all better understand the true causes behind this sudden increase in whale deaths along the East Coast,” said Virginia Olsen, commercial lobsterman and Director of the Maine Lobstering Union. “Working together to protect right whales requires transparency from everyone and NOAA is no exception. Making the data on these whale deaths public is critical so everyone has a shared understanding of how they are dying and to ensure that regulators are adequately addressing those threats,” said Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen's Association. A copy of the letter can be found here. https://golden.house.gov/sites/evo-subsites/golden.house.gov/files/evo-media-document/230227-ltr-to-noaa-whale-necropsies.pdf ### ... [Message clipped] View entire message