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Canada's 2023 North Atlantic right whale protection measures are in effect

April 20, 2023

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has announced vessel and fishery management measures for the 2023 season to protect endangered species that include the North Atlantic right whale.

After 366 North Atlantic right whales had been reported worldwide in 2021, that figure has now dropped to 340 individuals.

Placed for the recovery of species at risk, the DFO's measures likewise aim to ensure the sustainability of Canadian fisheries for Indigenous peoples, the fishing industry, and coastal communities.

To prevent whale entanglements in fishing gear and collisions with vessels, DFO will prioritize the adaptive closure of targeted fishing areas when there are whales sighted in those waters. DFO will also take a collaborative approach this year to develop a long-term strategy to test and implement whale-safe fishing gear.

The 2023 measures also relate to Transport Canada's marine traffic management, which imposes speed restrictions for all vessels over 13 metres (42.6 feet) throughout much of the Gulf of St. Lawrence to protect whales where they are detected. Speed management restrictions began April 19th and will be in effect until November 15th. Depending on a violation’s severity, vessel owners could face fines of up to $250,000.