Government of Canada announces new investments in science initiatives to support whale protection efforts

News release

July 24, 2019

Mont-Joli, Quebec — Canada has some of the most spectacular coastlines in the world, and our oceans are home to marine life of many kinds. Some of our remarkable marine mammals, including the St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga, North Atlantic Right Whale and Southern Resident Killer Whale, continue to face significant challenges from shipping traffic, underwater noise, marine contaminants, entanglements in fishing gear and other environmental threats.

The Government of Canada is committed to the conservation and recovery of these endangered whales. We are making further investments to support scientific research, in collaboration with Canadian and international partners, to better understand the pressures facing marine mammals and to protect them from further harm.

To help achieve these important goals, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, and Member of Parliament for Avignon-La Mitis-Matane-Matapédia and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Rémi Massé, announced today in Mont-Joli, Quebec, that the Government of Canada is investing nearly $3 million for 12 new whale science initiatives, through various government funding programs, including Canada’s Oceans Protection Plan and the Whales Initiative.

These whale science initiatives aim to support the conservation and recovery of endangered marine mammals through:  

  • upgrading field research equipment used to gather and analyze critical data to support protective measures;
  • developing new tools and technologies to help detect whales in near real-time, such as  a vessel-based infrared camera that detects whale blows;
  • the continued development and testing of systems to alert mariners and large commercial vessel operators of nearby whales;
  • creating a real-time movement forecast tool to help predict the direction of whale movements;
  • new research tools to manage and analyze underwater noise data to help determine measures to reduce the impact on marine mammals; and
  • expanding acoustic surveillance and monitoring to collect near real-time data on the presence of whales and better understand the impact of underwater noise on whales.

The projects supported by these investments will help us better understand the threats facing marine mammals, including the St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga, North Atlantic Right Whale and the Southern Resident Killer Whale, and ensure we make the right decisions to protect these extraordinary species and their sensitive marine environment.

Quotes

“The Government of Canada is taking action to protect and recover the St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga, North Atlantic Right Whale and the Southern Resident Killer Whale. We continue our robust efforts to protect endangered species from coast to coast to coast. Today’s investments in science and research will contribute to protect of these marine mammals and create good jobs here in Mont-Joli and across the country."

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“In Quebec, we understand the importance of protecting endangered species like the St. Lawrence Estuary beluga and other marine mammals. The projects announced today will not only create good jobs here in Mont-Joli but also help provide us with the most advanced scientific knowledge to better understand the belugas’ behaviour to ensure their enduring recovery.”

Rémi Massé, Member of Parliament for Avignon-La Mitis-Matane-Matapédia and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

Quick facts

  • Many of these projects fall under the Whale Detection and Avoidance and Marine Environmental Quality initiatives, two of numerous actions the Government of Canada is taking to safeguard our coasts and waterways under the $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan. This national plan is establishing a world-leading marine safety system that provides economic opportunities for Canadians today, while ensuring our coastlines are healthier, safer and better protected for future generations.

  • The Whale Detection and Avoidance initiative is providing $9.1 million in investments to develop and test technologies that can detect the presence of whales in near real-time. Having up-to-date information on the presence of endangered marine mammals in a particular area can help alert mariners to the presence of whales and reduce the risk of vessel collisions.

  • The Marine Environmental Quality initiative is investing $26.6 million in a range of activities to increase our knowledge of the impact of environmental stressors on the marine environment. The initial focus of the initiative is to better understand the impact of shipping-related underwater noise on whales, specifically the endangered St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga, North Atlantic Right Whale and the Southern Resident Killer Whale.

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Associated links

Contacts

Jocelyn Lubczuk
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans
and the Canadian Coast Guard
343-548-7863
Jocelyn.lubczuk@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

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


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