Government of Canada increases marine mammal response capacity in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence
August 4, 2021
Shippagan, New Brunswick - Through the Whales Initiative, the Government of Canada has been making important investments to help marine mammal response partners across the country better respond to marine mammal incidents, such as fishing gear entanglements and strandings, in a safe and timely manner.
Today, Member of Parliament for Acadie-Bathurst Serge Cormier, on behalf of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, welcomed the arrival of a new vessel that will provide much needed capacity to respond to large whale incidents in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. Over the past several years, this body of water has been a popular destination for North Atlantic right whales in the spring and summer months.
The new vessel, based out of Shippagan, New Brunswick, will be operated by the Association des pêcheurs professionnels crabiers acadiens Inc. (APPCA), and is the first dedicated marine mammal response vessel to operate out of the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. Until now, marine mammal responders from other areas would need to travel several hours or days to respond to marine mammal incidents in the area, which would impede rescue efforts.
In recent years, the Campobello Whale Rescue Team, based out of Campobello Island, New Brunswick, has been providing marine mammal response training to the members of the APPCA so they can safely disentangle large whales.
In addition to the $379,000 vessel investment, Fisheries and Oceans Canada also provided the APPCA with an additional $30,000 for whale disentanglement equipment and other operational costs.
“Canada’s measures to protect North Atlantic right whales are world-class, and the hard work and cooperation of fish harvesters has been instrumental to their success. With this new response vessel and crew closer to where right whales are being seen, we are better able to respond if an incident occurs in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. My thanks to the Campobello Whale Rescue Team and to the Association des pêcheurs professionnels crabiers acadiens (APPCA). We’re glad to have you as partners in whale rescue.”
The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“Historically, the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence did not have a dedicated vessel or team to respond to large whales in distress. The APPCA and their members, fishermen who are receiving training for large whale disentanglements, know these waters and weather conditions. The APPCA is providing a very important service in our region, which has become even more critical now that the North Atlantic right whales are spending more time in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.”
Serge Cormier, Member of Parliament for Acadie-Bathurst
"The Association is very pleased to establish a marine mammal disentanglement team to better protect endangered species like the North Atlantic right whale. We want to ensure that we keep a sustainable fishery in place for future generations and maintain our markets for snow crab sales in international markets."
Martin Noël, President of the Association des pêcheurs professionnels crabiers acadiens Inc.
The funding for the vessel, training and other operational costs, totalling approximately $410,000, came from the $167.4 million Whales Initiative (Budget 2018), which supports the protection and recovery of priority endangered whale species. The Whales Initiative has allocated $4.5 million over 4 years to increase capacity for safe and effective marine mammal response across the country.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible for supporting marine mammals and sea turtles in distress. In collaboration with conservation groups and non-governmental organizations, the Department supports marine mammal incident response networks in all regions under the umbrella of the Marine Mammal Response Program.
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
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