Government of Canada announces the 2024 measures to protect North Atlantic right whales

News release

March 26, 2024

Ottawa, Ontario - Protecting and maintaining a rich and diverse marine ecosystem is critical to the health of Canada’s aquatic species and habitats. That is why the Government of Canada is once again implementing annual measures to safeguard the endangered North Atlantic right whale, protecting them from fishing gear entanglements and vessel strikes—the biggest threats to their survival.

Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, along with the Minister of Transport, Pablo Rodriguez, announced that the fishery and vessel management measures for the 2024 season remain unchanged from last year. These measures help support the ongoing protection and recovery of the species.

In 2024, the Government of Canada will continue to:

  • Use adaptive closure protocols, such as seasonal and dynamic area closures for non-tended fixed gear, trap and pot fisheries in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Bay of Fundy, Roseway Basin, and other areas, where and when right whales are visually or acoustically detected.
  • Apply gear marking requirements, lost gear reporting requirements and marine mammal disturbance reporting requirements.
  • Apply vessel traffic management measures including speed restrictions throughout much of the Gulf of St. Lawrence to protect whales where they are detected, and an area restricted to vessels of over 13 metres in the southern GSL where right whales have been found to aggregate in larger numbers. This year, vessel traffic management measures begin as of April 17.
  • Finalize a National Whalesafe Gear Strategy, including next steps to operationalize on-demand fishing gear.

Canada’s North Atlantic right whale protection measures are based on the latest data, science, technological advancements and feedback from stakeholders. These measures help to ensure the sustainability of Canadian fisheries while giving North Atlantic right whales the best chance to recover.


“Our government will always strive to strike the right balance between protecting North Atlantic right whales and pursuing fisheries that are critical to our coastal communities’ economies. The data released in October is encouraging and shows that the industry's daily efforts to halt its population decline are working. Together, let's continue to put our shoulder to the wheel.”

The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“This is a critical time for the North Atlantic right whale. By working together, our fishing and marine transport industries will continue to thrive, while protecting the diverse marine ecosystem that made them possible in the first place.” 

The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Transport 

Quick facts

  • In October 2023, the North Atlantic Right Whale Consortium estimated the 2022 NARW population
    at 356. This may indicate that the population could be starting to stabilize after years of decline.

  • The Government of Canada is committed to the protection and recovery of this endangered species, which is listed under the federal Species at Risk Act

  • Fishery management measures will come into effect upon the opening of the snow crab fishery in Crab Fishing Area 12.

  • Aircraft from Transport Canada’s National Aerial Surveillance Program monitors certain areas of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

  • Vessel traffic management measures will be in effect from April 17 to November 15, 2024. Depending on the severity of a violation, vessel owners could face fines of up to a maximum of $250,000. 

Associated links


Jérémy Collard
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Laura Scaffidi
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez 
Minister of Transport, Ottawa

Media Relations  
Transport Canada, Ottawa

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