Marine Atlantic is warning customers that ferry crossings between Cape Breton and Newfoundland could take longer in the coming weeks due to efforts to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales.
The North Atlantic Right Whale is an endangered species that migrates along the coast of the United States, through the Cabot Strait and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence each year. There have been a number of right whale deaths this summer attributed to issues including possible ship strikes and fishing gear entanglements.
Earlier this summer, the Government of Canada introduced measures to help reduce the risk of ships striking the whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. One of the measures taken was a reduction in vessel speed to 10 knots in northwestern sections of the Gulf where the whales have spent the past several weeks.
Due to the migratory nature of the right whale, Marine Atlantic is preparing for when the whales begin their migration south through the Cabot Strait. The Corporation is working with Transport Canada in monitoring this migration period, which could take place in the next several weeks.
As such, Marine Atlantic is developing operational and mitigation plans to be implemented when the speed reduction zone shifts to the Cabot Strait area. The company says it is very important for them to do their part to protect this endangered species during their migration period.