Historically, the United States has been
more stringent than Canada with enforcement and compliance of legal protection
of endangered species with ranges spanning both jurisdictions (4, 10). Even so,
the United States has had limited success
in reducing the risk of entanglement
using modified fishing gear. Canada has
also struggled with fishing gear entanglement. The Canadian government currently
lacks permanent policies to address the
The U.S. National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration designated
the 2017 mortality event as an Unusual
Mortality Event, allowing the United States
to investigate the causes (3). Results are
not yet available. Recent Canadian investigations into North Atlantic right whale
deaths and entanglements indicated that
five deaths were likely attributed to blunt
trauma and two deaths were due to fishing
gear entanglement. There is no evidence
yet of chronic toxicity effects (2). Before
releasing the necropsy report, Fisheries
and Ocean Canada implemented protection
measures, such as voluntary speed reductions (which were later made mandatory)
in the western Gulf of St. Lawrence. The
government also closed snow crab fisheries
early, although catch quotas were already
98% filled (1).
Considering that recovery planning
efforts have not previously focused on the
10 NOVEMBER 2017 • VOL 358 ISSUE 6364 731 SCIENCE sciencemag.org
Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Canadian and U.S.
governments, along with all stakeholders
involved in North Atlantic right whale con-
servation, must continue to work closely
together to implement stringent bilateral
legal protection for continued protection
of this critically endangered species on the
brink of extinction.
Stephanie Taylor and Tony R. Walker*
School for Resource and Environmental Studies,
Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2, Canada.
*Corresponding author. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Government of Canada, Fisheries and Oceans, “Right
whale deaths in Gulf of St. Lawrence” (2017); www.
2. P.-Y. Daoust et al., “Incident report North Atlantic right
whale mortality event in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, 2017”
(Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative, Marine Animal
Response Society, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada,
3. NOAA, “2017 North Atlantic Right Whale Unusual Mortality
Event” (2017); www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/mmume/
4. G. K. Silber et al., Mar. Pol. 36, 1221 (2012).
5. S. W. Brillant et al., Mar. Pol. 81, 160 (2017).
6. H. Caswell, M. Fuji wara, S. Brault, Proc.Natl.Acad Sci.
U.S. A. 96, 3308 (1999).
7. A. R. Knowlton et al., Mar. Ecol. Press Ser.466, 293 (2012).
8. D. W. Laist, A. R. Knowlton, D. Pendelton,Endang.Spec.
Res. 23, 133 (2014).
9. A.S.Vanderlaan,C. T. Taggart, Conserv.Biol. 23,1467
10. J. Reimer et al., Mar. Pol. 68, 91 (2016).
Let experts judge
Senator Rand Paul (R–KY) recently
introduced legislation to fundamentally
change how federal grant proposals are
reviewed by the government (“Rand Paul
takes a poke at U.S. peer-review panels,” J.
Mervis, News, 19 October; http://scim.ag/
RandPanel). He seeks to solve a problem
that doesn’t exist. Paul’s supposed goal of
increasing transparency and accountability
is laudable, but his plan to dismantle the
in-house Office of Inspector General within
the National Science Foundation (NSF) and
create instead a “taxpayer advocate” for
research to designate some NSF proposals
as “silly research” will only serve to undermine the review process and inject politics
into a process that should be as free from it
By suggesting that outcomes of federally funded research should “deliver value
to the taxpayer,” Paul misunderstands
the purpose of research, which isn’t to
deliver value in a monetary sense, but
to answer a basic scientific question and
Caribou graze in Jasper National Park, Canada. lay the groundwork for future inquiry—
wherever that may lead. Research deemed
“bizarre” by Paul might lay the ground-
work for the next big breakthrough in
medicine or technology. The revolutionary
CRISPR technology, for example, began
as an attempt to understand an archaeal
microbe, Haloferax mediterranei, with
extreme salt tolerance that had been iso-
lated from marshes off the coast of Santa
Pola, Spain (1). Contrary to what Paul sug-
gests, nonexperts are not likely to have the
insight to gauge the potential long-term
relevance of research projects, which can
yield unexpected benefit—even in cases of
failure [e.g., (2, 3)]. Federally funded grants
should be reviewed by experts. They are
best positioned to understand the nuances
of proposals and the value of investing in
New York Academy of Sciences, New York, N Y 10007,
USA. Email: email@example.com
1. F.J.M.Mojica,G.Juez, F.Rodriguez-Valera, Molec.
Microbiol. 9, 613 (1993).
2. R.-P.Sekaly, J. Exp. Med.205,7(2008).
3. T. A. Day, J. G. Kublin, Curr. HIV Res .11, 441 (2013).
TECHNICAL COMMENT ABSTRACTS
Comment on “The extent of forest in dryland biomes”
Marcelino de la Cruz, Pedro F. Quintana-Ascencio, Luis Cayuela, Carlos I. Espinosa,
The study by Bastin et al. (Reports, 12 May
2017, p. 635) is based on an incomplete delimitation of dry forest distribution and on
an old and incorrect definition of drylands.
Its sampling design includes many plots
located in humid ecosystems and ignores
critical areas for the conservation of dry forests. Therefore, its results and conclusions
may be unreliable.
Full text: dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aao0369
Response to Comment on “The extent of
forest in dryland biomes”
J.-F. Bastin, D. Mollicone, A. Grainger, B.
Sparrow, N. Picard, A. Lowe, R. Castro
De la Cruz et al. question the reliability of
our results, claiming that we do not refer
to the most appropriate spatial extent of
drylands. In our response, we explain why
we chose an existing and internationally
recognized delineation of drylands among
several options, and why our findings are
due to a diference of remote sensing technique and not to the definition of drylands
we have selected.