Following the recent deaths of several endangered right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Government of Canada has imposed the speed restriction on all vessels over 20m in length travelling in the western Gulf of St. Lawrence from the Quebec north shore to just north of Prince Edward Island. The temporary measure is effective immediately.
“Canada takes the protection, conservation, and recovery of endangered species very seriously. The recent deaths of several North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence are extremely concerning.
“There is evidence that the North Atlantic right whales have been increasingly present in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in recent years. Our government has already taken action and will continue to ensure that measures are in place for the protection of this species and the safety of mariners using these waters,” said Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport and Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard in a statement.
“Transport Canada inspectors, with assistance from the Canadian Coast Guard’s Marine Communications and Traffic Services, will enforce this precautionary measure until the whales have migrated from the areas of concern. Failure to comply will result in an Administrative Monetary Penalty of up to $25,000”.
The speed restriction will affect all merchant shipping and add to sailing times. Canadian media have reported that the industry has generally responded with understanding. The Government has also imposed restrictions on commercial fishing, to prevent whales getting caught in lines and nets, and is using aerial surveillance in its enforcement efforts.