North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) recovery strategy

Official title: Recovery Strategy for the North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis) in Atlantic Canadian Waters. Recovery Strategy for the North Atlantic Right Whale

Table of contents

Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series

(Eubalaena glacialis) in Atlantic Canadian Waters.

North Atlantic Right Whale

female right whale

June 2009

About the Species at Risk Act (SARA) Recovery Strategy Series

 What is the Species at Risk Act (SARA)?

SARA is the Act developed by the federal government as a key contribution to the common national effort to protect and conserve species at risk in Canada. SARA came into force in 2003 and one of its purposes is “to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity.”

 What is recovery?

In the context of species at risk conservation, recovery is the process by which the decline of an endangered, threatened or extirpated species is arrested or reversed, and threats are removed or reduced to improve the likelihood of the species’ persistence in the wild. A species will be considered recovered when its long-term persistence in the wild has been secured.

 What is a recovery strategy?

A recovery strategy is a planning document that identifies what needs to be done to arrest or reverse the decline of a species. It sets goals and objectives and identifies the main areas of activities to be undertaken. Detailed planning is done at the action plan stage.

Recovery strategy development is a commitment of all provinces and territories and of three federal agencies -- Environment Canada, Parks Canada Agency and Fisheries and Oceans Canada -- under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk. Sections 37–46 of SARA spell out both the required content and the process for developing recovery strategies published in this series ( ).

Depending on the status of the species and when it was assessed, a recovery strategy has to be developed within one to two years after the species is added to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Three to four years is allowed for those species that were automatically listed when SARA came into force.

 What’s next?

In most cases, one or more action plans will be developed to define and guide implementation of the recovery strategy. Nevertheless, directions set in the recovery strategy are sufficient to begin involving communities, land users, and conservationists in recovery implementation. Cost-effective measures to prevent the reduction or loss of the species should not be postponed for lack of full scientific certainty.

The series

This series presents the recovery strategies prepared or adopted by the federal government under SARA. New documents will be added regularly as species get listed and as strategies are updated.

 To learn more

To learn more about the Species at Risk Act and recovery initiatives, please consult the SARA Public Registry (

Recommended citation: 

Brown, M.W., Fenton, D., Smedbol, K., Merriman, C., Robichaud-Leblanc, K., and Conway, J.D. 2009. Recovery Strategy for the North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis) in Atlantic Canadian Waters [Final]. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Fisheries and Oceans Canada. vi + 66p.

 Additional copies:

You can download additional copies from the SARA Public Registry

( )

Cover illustration:

The cover illustration depicts a female North Atlantic right whale known as Arpeggio, catalogue number 2753.  Born in 1997, Arpeggio is a poster child for what right whales do, what they are exposed to, and what tools researchers use to learn about their life history and the threats facing their recovery. She has ranged from the calving ground along the coast of eastern Florida to the Bay of Fundy and has been photographed in each year of her life in several different habitat areas.  She was entangled briefly in 1999 at the age of 2½, and survived a hit by a small vessel at the age of eight. She has been exposed to almost every type of research: tagging to learn about dive profiles and response to sound playback, skin sampling to learn about her genetic profile, and ultrasound measurements to assess her health.  She has recently had her first calf on the calving grounds in Florida.

Cover illustration credit: Scott Landry, Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies

Également disponible en français sous le titre

«Programme de rétablissement dela baleine noire (Eubalaena glacialis) de l’Atlantique Nord dans les eaux canadiennes de l'Atlantique »

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Fisheries

and Oceans, 2009. All rights reserved.

ISBN (978-1-100-10404-1)

Catalogue no. (As E3-4/62-2008E-PDF)

Content (excluding the cover illustration) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.

Printable version here (kb, pdf)

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