Ot­tawa or­ders ships to slow down for whales

LeBlanc, Garneau an­nounce im­me­di­ate mea­sures to pre­vent fur­ther deaths

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ATLANTIC -

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment is or­der­ing large ves­sels to slow down in the Gulf of St. Lawrence as it tries to pro­tect right whales who fre­quent the wa­ters.

Ten of the en­dan­gered mam­mals have died in the gulf since early June.

Fish­eries Min­is­ter Do­minic LeBlanc and Trans­port Min­is­ter Marc Garneau were in Pointe-du-Chene, N.B., Fri­day to an­nounce im­me­di­ate tem­po­rary mea­sures aimed at pre­vent­ing fur­ther whale deaths.

Garneau said ves­sels of 20 me­tres or more will be re­quired to slow to 10 knots while trav­el­ling in the west­ern Gulf of St. Lawrence, from the Que­bec north shore to just north of Prince Ed­ward Is­land. The lim­its of that zone are sub­ject to change, he said.

“These are rea­son­able mea­sures to ac­com­plish some­thing very im­por­tant,” Garneau said. “I think that Cana­di­ans and the ship­ping in­dus­try and the fish­ing in­dus­try rec­og­nize that this is some­thing most un­usual and we need to take mea­sures.”

The mea­sure will be en­forced by Trans­port Canada and the Cana­dian Coast Guard. Ships that don’t com­ply with the speed limit will be sub­ject to a fi­nan­cial penalty of up to $25,000.

Smaller ships are be­ing asked to vol­un­tar­ily abide by the speed limit, which will re­main in place un­til the whales have mi­grated from the ar­eas of the gulf that pose the most con­cern.

The mea­sure was de­signed in con­sul­ta­tion with the fish­ing and ship­ping in­dus­tries, who ac­cord­ing to Garneau, have for the most part em­braced the con­ser­va­tion ef­fort.

“We do re­al­ize that there is some im­pact, but I think the ma­rine in­dus­try also rec­og­nizes that we are try­ing to achieve some­thing ex­tremely im­por­tant,” he said.

Pre­lim­i­nary necropsy re­ports in­di­cate some of the whales died of ei­ther en­tan­gle­ments with fish­ing gear, or from blunt trauma caused by ship col­li­sions. LeBlanc said a full re­port is set to be re­leased next month.

It’s be­lieved 80 to 100 right whales are cur­rently in the gulf, LeBlanc said, and sci­en­tists ex­pect the mam­mals to mi­grate south some time this fall.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.