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HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) — Scientists from Canada and the United States are meeting in Halifax to discuss the future of the North Atlantic right whale, which is in the midst of a high year of mortality.

The North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium says the event is scheduled for Sunday at St. Mary’s University and will attract nearly 300 researchers, government officials, members of industry and others.

Less than 500 of the right whales exist. At least 15 of them have died since the spring off of the U.S. and Canada, with many of the deaths attributable to vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing gear. Organizers say those will be key subjects up for discussion on Sunday.

The event is an annual meeting that is normally closed to the media, but this time it’s open.