Statement from the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard


Ottawa, Ontario – Our government is committed to protecting the North Atlantic Right Whale, which suffered unprecedented mortalities last summer.

Today’s decision by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to suspend certification for the snow crab fishery in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence for the 2018 season is a stark reminder of the need for all parties to work together to protect the North Atlantic right whale. Conservation efforts and economic activity are not, though they are often perceived to be, competing interests. Clearly, continued action to protect our marine life like the North Atlantic Right Whale is essential to protecting the economic well-being of our coastal communities.

MSC certification is a business decision initiated and paid for by industry members. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) will continue to support industry as they work to restore the MSC certification for the snow crab fishery by taking meaningful actions to protect right whales in 2018 and beyond.

We all want what is best for our precious marine mammals, and for the men and women who make their living from our marine resources. The dire state of the right whale population has brought together many stakeholders and experts to gain a better understanding of the complex issues and shared responsibilities. The expertise and advice gathered in consultations this winter is informing our actions to reduce interactions between right whales and humans.

As a first step, the management measures I announced on January 23, 2018 for the snow crab fishery in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence will help prevent gear entanglements and reduce threats to right whales. We have also been working hard to develop additional management measures and actions to protect right whales and will be announcing these in the coming weeks. The Canadian Coast Guard is preparing its resources for icebreaking, search and rescue and aids to navigation to support this fishery as soon as it is safe to do so.

As well, we are working to formalize a disentanglement protocol to allow for DFO to lift the current temporary pause on all right whale disentanglements. That said, it is very important that any amendments keep the safety of rescue teams and third-party service providers our top priority.

We are doing this important work in close collaboration with all sectors. We must, and will, do everything we can to ensure that our marine resources, and the livelihoods of those who make a living from them, are protected for future generations.



Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Vincent Hughes
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister
Fisheries and Oceans Canada



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