The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE -

Ot­tawa will do what is needed to pro­tect ‘ma­jes­tic’ right whales

Fed­eral Fish­eries Min­is­ter Do­minic LeBlanc says Ot­tawa will do what­ever is needed to pro­tect right whales and bol­ster their num­bers.

LeBlanc held a brief­ing Thurs­day morn­ing in Moncton, N.B., to ad­dress the 10 right whale deaths in the Gulf of St. Lawrence since early June.

He says Cana­di­ans have been moved by the deaths, and sci­en­tists are cur­rently study­ing all po­ten­tial mea­sures and he ex­pects to con­vene a sym­po­sium to fi­nal­ize the choices.

He says he flew over an area east of Mis­cou Is­land in New Brunswick to­day and saw 15 to 20 right whales - he called it a “ma­jes­tic” sight.

He says it’s be­lieved there are 80 to 100 right whales cur­rently in the gulf and sci­en­tists be­lieve sim­i­lar num­bers will be there next year as they search for food.

LeBlanc says mariners have been asked to take vol­un­tary mea­sures such as slow­ing to 10 knots and for fish­er­men to limit the amount of rope they have on the wa­ter.

The depart­ment has taken other steps to pre­vent fur­ther deaths, in­clud­ing short­en­ing the snow crab sea­son and ask­ing fish­er­men in the gulf to re­port any whale sight­ings.

Col­li­sions with ships and fish­ing gear en­tan­gle­ments are ma­jor threats for the whales.

A fi­nal re­port on the ne­crop­sies of sev­eral whales is not ex­pected un­til mid Septem­ber, and LeBlanc says that will in­form fi­nal de­ci­sions.

Fish­eries of­fi­cials have said the num­ber of right whale deaths is con­cern­ing, con­sid­er­ing there is an es­ti­mated pop­u­la­tion of about 500.


Dr. Pierre-Yves Du­mont col­lects sam­ples from a dead right whale in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in a re­cent hand­out photo.

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