Agencies respond to whale entangled in net off Maui

14th Coast Guard District NewsHONOLULU – The Coast Guard and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration are responding to a whale reportedly entangled from head to tail in fishing nets 6 miles south of Maalaea Bay, Maui Thursday.

Coast Guard Station Maui received a call at 8 a.m from the charter boat Maui Diamond 2 reporting an adult male humpback whale entangled in fishing net from head to tail dragging two orange buoys.

A Coast Guard crew from Station Maui and a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration marine mammal specialist launched aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium at 9 a.m. to evaluate and tag the whale. The crew of the charter boat remained on scene until the RB-M arrived.

“We had a great opportunity here with the Maui Diamond 2 standing-by the animal and we wanted to respond as quickly as possible. Hopefully, our team will have the ability to tag the whale and gather enough information to allow a team of advanced responders to relocate and free the animal” said Eric Roberts, 14th Coast Guard District marine mammal response manager.

A Coast Guard Auxiliary airplane was also launched to observe the from the air. The RB-M is currently following the whale.

Mariners are asked to report distressed or entangled marine mammal sightings to either the NOAA Fisheries Hotline at 888-256-9840 or the US Coast Guard on channel 16.

Protecting the nation’s natural resources is one of the Coast Guard’s five strategic goals. The Coast Guard is the foremost agency with the capability and authority to project a federal law enforcement presence into the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone and upon the high seas. The Coast Guard’s strategic plan for marine protected species is called Ocean Steward.

Coast Guard objectives include assisting in preventing the decline of marine protected species populations, promoting the recovery of marine protected species and their habitats, partnering with other agencies and organizations to enhance stewardship of marine ecosystems and ensuring internal compliance with appropriate legislation, regulations and management practices.

The Coast Guard uses a wide variety of multi-mission assets to carry out its strategic goal of protecting the maritime environment. The 45-foot Response Boat-Medium is part of the Coast Guard’s recapitalization efforts to ensure the Coast Guard’s ability to conduct its many missions. One of the many benefits of the RB-M, aside from its multi-mission capabilities, is the jet drive used to power the vessel. The jet drive can easily maneuver the RB-M if a whale gets too close, without the risk of harming the endangered species. Hawaii’s first RBM was delivered in June 2010.

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