Following the recent deaths of seven North Atlantic Right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has highlighted work underway, including:
- Issuing a notice requesting that mariners voluntarily reduce speed along the Laurentian channel in shipping lanes between the Magdalen Islands to the Gaspé peninsula until September 30, 2017;
- Issuing a notice to the commercial fishing industry in the Gulf of St. Lawrence asking them to watch for whales and to report any sightings;
- Broadcasting notices on the marine radio system to request that shipping and fishing industries be on alert for whales; and
- Implementing an immediate partial closure within the snow crab fishing area where whales are known to frequent.
There has been an increased presence of right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence this year and more frequent sightings near shipping lanes. The population of endangered North Atlantic righ whales is around 500. Earlier this week, DFO and partners responded to a whale entanglement in the area. Tragically, one of the partners, Mr. Joe Howlett of the Campobello Whale Rescue, lost his life while attempting to free the whale.