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An Exemplary Maritime Partnership That’s Expanding!

January 17, 2017

Quebec City, January 17, 2017 – The partnership formed to collect data on cetacean observations in Eastern and Northern Canada is widening its scope. The voluntary program originated from the collaboration of Desgagnés and the Réseau d’Observation de Mammifères Marins (ROMM) in May 2015. For almost two years now, 18 vessels within the Desgagnés fleet have been participating in the gathering of information about the whales of Quebec, as well as those in Northern and Eastern Canada. A Canada Steamship Lines (CSL) vessel was also part of a pilot project to collect data on marine mammals. Building on the positive results achieved by these collaborations, Green Marine is joining the team to facilitate exporting this successful model to other regions of North America.

To date, nearly 635 whale observations have been made by the earlier trained crews aboard Desgagnés vessels, significantly enriching ROMM’s database and reporting on territories previously uncovered by its observing members. The public can access the data at the St. Lawrence Global Observatory website at www.slgo.ca. “Even though we haven’t yet compiled all of the 2016 observation data, we can affirm that we have significantly exceeded the results attained in 2015 in terms of amount of data collected. This scenario demonstrates the keen interest of the seafaring personnel in participating in this process,” emphasizes Daniel Côté, Environmental Advisor for Desgagnés.

Thanks to a grant from the Government of Canada Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk, a training and data collection program is planned to build on the positive experience with Desgagnés. The plan is to consolidate and improve upon the existing program, as well as extend it to other maritime industry representatives. “We want to review some elements of the data collection protocol so that the data can be used by scientists to reduce the risk of collisions between whales and ships and, thereby, directly help the recovery of species at risk, such as the blue whale and the right whale,” says Esther Blier, ROMM’s Executive Director.

Green Marine’s participation in the project will help to develop training and data collection tools adapted to the reality of different ship owners, improving them in the process so they can be integrated into the recognized environmental certification program. “Green Marine is pleased to be associated with this participatory approach toward achieving a better coexistence between ships and whales,” says David Bolduc, Green Marine’s Executive Director. “In partnership with ROMM and other organizations outside Quebec, we will work to promote this project in order to make it accessible to other participants in the Green Marine program throughout North America.”

The current project constitutes a continuation of the original initiative completed by ROMM in collaboration with the Shipping Federation of Canada, which resulted in the publication of A Mariner’s Guide to Whales in the Northwest Atlantic. A tool greatly appreciated by the maritime industry, this guide has been distributed free of charge since 2014 with the aim of raising the awareness of seafaring personnel to the presence of whales and the consequences of ship collisions with them.

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Desgagnés, whose headquarters are in Quebec City, is a conglomerate that has specialized since the 19th century in marine transportation of liquid bulk, general cargo, dry bulk and passengers. Its activities also extend to ship repair as well as the rental and operation of heavy machinery. The company owns and operates a fleet of ships that navigate on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence, the Canadian Arctic, the East coasts of Canada and the United States and all the seas of the world. With an annual turnover nearing 230 million dollars, Desgagnés creates approximately 1,000 jobs in high season with a payroll exceeding 50 million dollars.

Réseau d’observation de mammifères marins (ROMM)

The Réseau d’Observation de Mammifères Marins (ROMM) is a not-for-profit organization based in Rivière-du-Loup that has been at work since 1998 to conserve and highlight the value of the St. Lawrence River and its wildlife. Always taking an integrated management approach, ROMM collaborates with diverse players within the maritime industry to involve them in a coordinated approach to the conservation of marine ecosystems.

Green Marine

Founded in 2007, Green Marine is a North American environmental certification program that stems from a voluntary initiative by the maritime industry to exceed regulatory requirements. It is a rigorous, transparent and inclusive program that targets prioritized environmental issues through its 12 distinct performance indicators. To date, more than 110 ship owners, port authorities, terminals and shipyards from one ocean to the other in Canada and the United States participate in the program. The Green Marine program derives its uniqueness from the support it receives from environmental organizations and government agencies. These approximately 50 supporters contribute to shaping and revising the program.

Picture: Right Whale (Charlotte Horvath, ROMM)