Government of Canada announces 2022 North Atlantic right whale protection measures
March 10, 2022
Ottawa, Ontario - The Government of Canada recognizes that protecting and sustaining aquatic species at risk is critically important to ecosystem health and thriving fisheries. To that end, the government continues to take concrete and comprehensive action to help protect endangered North Atlantic right whales from fishing gear entanglements and collisions with vessels so that the population can grow and rebuild.
Following two successful years during which there were no reported right whale deaths in Canadian waters, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Joyce Murray, and the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, have announced the fishery and vessel management measures for the 2022 season.
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada will again implement seasonal and temporary fishing area closures in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Bay of Fundy, and critical habitat areas where and when right whales are visually and acoustically detected.
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada will also continue addressing ghost gear in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, supporting networks of marine mammal responders, and working with harvesters to help them transition to whalesafe gear in 2023.
- Transport Canada’s vessel traffic management measures include a speed restriction for all vessels over 13 metres, throughout much of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, to protect areas where whales are detected. This year’s measures take effect on April 20 to better respond to North Atlantic right whale presence.
Canada’s dynamic right whale protection measures—founded on science and backed by the most comprehensive right whale surveillance program in the world—are making a difference in sustaining the right whale population, while also ensuring that harvesters can continue making a profitable living from the sea.
The Government of Canada is committed to implementing sensible protection measures, as necessary and in collaboration with other government departments, industry, non-governmental organizations, academia, Indigenous communities, and our U.S. counterparts, to ensure North Atlantic right whales have the best possible chance to recover.
"North Atlantic right whales remain at risk, and we need to do everything we can to protect them from human threats. Over the last two years, Canada has proven humans and right whales can co-exist successfully. By working together, we can ensure these beautiful animals are protected while putting world-class, sustainable seafood on dinner tables in Canada and around the globe. Canada's right whale protection measures are here to stay."
The Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“With only about 336 North Atlantic right whales remaining in the world, our Government is more than ever committed to protecting and supporting the recovery of this iconic species. This is why we continue to incorporate the most recent research and analysis into our vessel traffic management measures, which cover an area of more than 72,000 square kilometres, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Our government also relies on the efforts of the maritime and fishing industries to limit the risks of their activities on North Atlantic right whales.”
The Honourable Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport
Canada’s right whale protection measures are based on the latest data, science, technological advancements, and feedback from stakeholders.
Once again, in 2022, up to six aircraft will be used to support fishing and vessel traffic management measures, and right whale research. Six Slocum underwater gliders and at least eight Viking Buoys will provide acoustic information on the location of the whales in near real-time.
Visual surveillance for the vessel traffic management measures is conducted, all season, by trained personnel on board the National Aerial Surveillance Program aircraft and, for part of the season, by trained personnel on the ground, operating a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (or drone).
Fishery management measures will come into effect upon the opening of the snow crab fishery in Crab Fishing Area 12 (as early as April 1).
Vessel traffic management measures will be in effect from April 20 to November 15, 2022. Depending on the severity of a violation, vessel owners could face fines of up to a maximum of $250,000.
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Office of the Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport, Ottawa
Transport Canada, Ottawa
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