Government launches new research funding for Canadian universities to protect endangered whales

News release

Ottawa, Ontario — Protecting Canada’s endangered whales from further harm is a shared responsibility between the government and its partners. New research and solutions are needed to better understand the threats facing these iconic species. 

Today, the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, and the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sports and Persons with Disabilities, announced a new $3 million-initiative that will encourage new research in Canada to help advance our understanding of Southern Resident Killer Whales, North Atlantic Right Whales, and St. Lawrence Estuary Belugas and the challenges they face. 

The joint initiative between Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) will provide funding to Canadian universities for research on these endangered whales, including research on their health and condition. Supported projects will also focus on the effectiveness of measures to mitigate threats and on innovative whale assessment methodologies. 

The initiative aims to encourage collaboration by providing funding for large-scale, university-based whale research projects. NSERC is now accepting proposals via their website and interested participants must apply by August 10th. A volunteer evaluation committee composed of distinguished members from academia and government organizations will review applications and successful projects will be announced in September.  

The results will increase the scientific information available to support conservation efforts related to priority whale species. Collaboration between all partners is key to supporting the recovery of endangered whale species in Canadian waters.


Quotes

“In order to better protect these iconic species, we need to understand the threats they are facing and determine the best solutions possible. Ultimately, this initiative will increase the body of scientific information that’s needed to support our government’s policy development, decision-making and conservation efforts related to endangered whale species in Canadian waters.”

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“We are taking action to protect Canada’s endangered whale populations by supporting new research to better understand the threats they face. This research will also give the next generation of researchers the opportunity to acquire new skills as they work hard to protect and preserve these important marine mammals.” 

The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities

“Today’s announcement supports our commitment to protect at risk whale populations like the Southern Resident Killer Whale through science based decision making. I’d like to thank UBC Professor Dr. Andrew Trites for bringing to my attention the need to fund training for the next generation of cetacean researchers and I’d like to thank Minister LeBlanc and Minister Duncan for their rapid action on these recommendations.”

Joyce Murray, Member of Parliament for Vancouver Quadra (British Columbia) and Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board

“NSERC highly values collaborations with government and multi-sector partners to advance research and solve problems in areas of key importance to Canada. We are proud to collaborate with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to support projects that will help protect marine mammals and their environment and advance scientific research for the benefit of all Canadians.”  

Dr. B. Mario Pinto, President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada 

Quick facts

  • A complex mix of threats – such as vessel collisions, gear entanglements, availability of prey, increased noise levels, and pollution in the water – are impacting many whale populations.

  • The Government of Canada is committed to taking actions to protect endangered whale populations, in particular Southern Resident Killer Whales, North Atlantic Right Whales, and St. Lawrence Estuary Belugas. A number of programs under the $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan and the recently announced $167-million Whales Initiative directly support the conservation and recovery of these species. 

Associated links

Contacts

Vincent Hughes
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans
and the Canadian Coast Guard
613-992-3474
Vincent.Hughes@dfo-mpo.gc.ca 

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
613-990-7537
Media.xncr@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
343-291-1777
ic.mediarelations-mediasrelations.ic@canada.ca


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