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2019 protection plan for North Atlantic right whales

February 7, 2019

On February 7, the Government of Canada announced how it will protect the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale during the 2019 season. The North Atlantic right whale faces two key threats: vessel strikes and fishing gear entanglements.

These advanced measures build on a successful 2018 season when there were no North Atlantic right whale found dead in Canadian waters. In addition, five calves have recently been spotted in U.S. waters. Encouraging signs for this endangered species.

To reduce the probability of vessel strikes the government is:

  • Reintroducing a mandatory speed restriction for vessels 20 metres or longer to a maximum of 10 knots when traveling in the western Gulf of St. Lawrence starting April 28.
  • Continuing to allow vessels to travel at safe operational speeds in parts of two shipping lanes north and south of Anticosti Island when no North Atlantic right whales are spotted in the area.
  • Adjusting the areas where the mandatory speed restriction applies to reflect North Atlantic right whale sightings to minimize slowdowns for the cruise ship industry and community resupply vessels.

These advanced measures were developed after consultations with the industry and the scientific community. They complement the existing recovery efforts of the Species at Risk Act which include the North Atlantic Right Whale Recovery Strategy and Action Plan, as well as requirements pursuant to the Marine Mammal Regulations.