Statement from Minister Dominic LeBlanc on the Recent Death Related to a Whale Rescue Effort


July 11, 2017

OTTAWA, ONTARIO – It is with sadness that I offer my deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Mr. Joe Howlett. Mr. Howlett was a member of a non-governmental organization, Campobello Whale Rescue, who tragically lost his life yesterday while taking part in a rescue operation to disentangle a North Atlantic Right whale off the coast of New Brunswick.

Taking part in whale rescue operations requires immense bravery and a passion for the welfare of marine mammals. Mr. Howlett’s notable experience and contribution to whale rescue include his very recent and critical role in successfully freeing an entangled whale on July 5.

At the time of the fatal incident, Mr. Howlett was on a Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) fast response vessel. DFO’s Conservation and Protection officers and the Canadian Coast Guard took part in responding to the situation.

There are serious risks involved with any disentanglement attempt. Each situation is unique, and entangled whales can be unpredictable.

I am mindful of the other individuals who were on board the vessel at the time this tragic incident occurred. I recognize it is a very difficult thing to lose a friend and colleague. My thoughts are also with them during this time. I would also like to express my gratitude to all those involved in responding to the emergency.

We have lost an irreplaceable member of the whale rescue community. His expertise and dedication will be greatly missed.

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Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Gulf Region

Kevin Lavigne
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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