Canadian fisherman killed by whale as he cut it from rope tangle

Canadian fisherman killed by whale as he cut it from rope tangle

Joe Howlett, who also worked as a lobster fisherman, was the co-founder of the Campobello Whale Rescue Team. He was on a rescue mission with Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to free a North Atlantic right whale that had become ensnared, according to a statement from the department.

Fisheries spokesman Vance Chow says the department is reviewing how it responds to whale entanglements and until that review is complete, it is pausing efforts free North Atlantic right whales.

A fisherman known for rescuing whales tangled in fishing lines and nets was killed on Monday, moments after freeing an endangered right whale, the Canadian Press reports.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare, which funds the Campobello Whale Rescue Team, mourned Howlett as "a true friend of the animals" who had dedicated countless hours to rescuing whales in the Bay of Fundy and eastern Canada.

The fisherman was on board a Canadian boat when the whale swam away from the rope and "responded in a way that ultimately killed Joe". "He was truly a hero whose passion for the ocean transcended diverse groups of people and opinions", said Scott Kraus, head of the aquarium's right whale research program.

Friends told the Canadian Press he had saved some two dozen whales over 15 years.
"This is something he loved and there's no better feeling than getting a whale untangled, and I know how good he was feeling after cutting that whale clear", Green added.

"Joe definitely would not want us to stop because of this", Mackie told the Canadian Press.

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"Taking part in whale rescue operations requires huge bravery and a passion for the welfare of marine animals", said Minister Dominic LeBlanc.

LeBlanc added that any disentanglement attempt carries serious risks, and whales can be unpredictable.

The team uses high speed inflatable boats to reach an ensnared whale, then bladed extension poles are used to cut a fishing line.

"He was also a valued and respected member of his Campobello Island community".

Joe Howlett (left) and his son. At least one of the whales found dead was entangled in crab fishing gear.

He added: "I'm sure for him, I'm sure it was just another day at work. he was a very courageous man, a very good man and was doing something he believed in".

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