Update on the North Atlantic Right Whale Situation in the Gulf of St. Lawrence


OTTAWA, ONTARIO – The Government of Canada remains firmly committed to the protection of endangered species across Canada – including the North Atlantic Right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Today, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is highlighting new efforts and work already underway to help protect the North Atlantic Right whale population, including:

  • Issuing a notice to the commercial fishing industry in the Gulf of St. Lawrence asking them to watch for whales and to report any sightings;
  • Broadcasting notices on the marine radio system to request that shipping and fishing industries be on alert for whales;
  • Addressing threats to marine mammals in Canadian waters and enhancing capacity to respond to marine mammal incidents through the Government of Canada’s $1.5 billion investment in the Oceans Protection Plan;
  • Issuing a notice requesting that mariners voluntarily reduce speed along the Laurentian channel in shipping lanes between the Magdalen Islands to the Gaspé peninsula until September 30, 2017;
  • Implementing an immediate partial closure within the snow crab fishing area where whales are known to frequent;
  • Reviewing fisheries in the area and taking measures to avoid negative impacts on the whales; and
  • Continuing to work with partners to necropsy all dead whales to better understand what may have caused their deaths.

Earlier this week, DFO and our partners responded to a whale entanglement in the area. Tragically, one of our partners, Mr. Joe Howlett of the Campobello Whale Rescue, lost his life while attempting to free the whale. See statement here: Statement from Minister Dominic LeBlanc on the Recent Death Related to a Whale Rescue Effort.

The Government of Canada takes the protection, conservation, and recovery of endangered species very seriously. We will continue to work with our partners as this issue evolves.


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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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