Ottawa announces measures to protect whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

The Government of Canada announced the implementation of new measures to help protect North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Last year, an unprecedented number of right whales died in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. To protect these whales from further harm, the Government of Canada put urgent measures in place, including a slowdown on large vessels to avoid collisions.

After extensive consultation this winter with partners, experts, stakeholders and Indigenous groups, the following measures will be put in place in 2018:

• Imposing a mandatory speed restriction from April 28 until November 15 for vessels 20 metres or longer to a maximum of 10 knots when travelling in the western Gulf of St. Lawrence. The speed restriction zone may be changed as needed.

• Allowing vessels to travel at normal speeds in parts of two shipping lanes north and south of Anticosti Island when no whales are in the area. A 15-day mandatory slowdown of 10 knots will be activated within a section of the shipping lanes when one North Atlantic right whale is spotted and can be extended as needed.

Other measures concerning the fishing and seafood industries will also be implemented.

The new measures aim to protect these endangered whales from further harm and minimize possible economic losses for local economies. The measures may be changed as needed over the season.

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