Oceana Calls on DFO: Release Whale Safe Gear Strategy in Wake of Entangled Right Whale Calf in Gulf of St. Lawrence   - Oceana Canada

Oceana Calls on DFO: Release Whale Safe Gear Strategy in Wake of Entangled Right Whale Calf in Gulf of St. Lawrence  

Press Release Date: June 25, 2024

Media contacts: Vaishali Dassani, Oceana Canada, vdassani@oceana.ca, 647-294-3335;
Megan Jordan, Oceana in the United States, mjordan@oceana.org, 202-868-4061

Ottawa, Canada/ Washington, DC Oceana Canada is calling on Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to release their much-anticipated Whale Safe Gear Strategy as entanglements continue to devastate whale populations. Last night, DFO reported an entangled critically endangered North Atlantic right whale in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The eighteen-month-old female calf of whale #1812, was spotted on June 22, 2024 located east of Miscou Island, New Brunswick by a survey team from Canadian Whale Institute (CWI), Campobello Whale Rescue Team (CWRT) and Équipe de Désempêtrement du Golfe (EDG).  Entanglement is one of the leading threats to right whales. A tracking buoy has been attached to the whale and DFO and other partners will continue to monitor the situation to determine response options and, if weather and sea conditions allow, efforts will be made to attempt disentanglement.  The origin of the gear has not been determined.  

Below is Oceana Canada’s response from campaign director Kim Elmslie: 

“Tragically, once entangled, all we can do is hope that conditions are right for an attempt to disentangle this young female calf. Preventing the entanglement from happening in the first place is our only other recourse.  Too many whales are being lost to entanglements in fishing gear and ship strikes. Ropeless gear is the way to prevent entanglements. We are calling on DFO to expedite the release of their Whale Safe Gear Strategy so that all stakeholders can provide input and it can be implemented as soon as possible. Delaying action means another summer of whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence without a strategy to prevent entanglements.  

With only 356 North Atlantic right whales left, and about 70 breeding age females, this species is on the brink of extinction. These females and their calves are the future of the species.  We don’t know yet the type of gear the whale is entangled with or the where the gear came from however, we do know that even minor entanglements can impair a female whale’s ability to breed and an alarming 86% of right whales bear scars from entanglement.  Reducing the risk of entanglement is vital for preventing extinction.” 

 Gib Brogan, campaign director for Oceana in the United States:  

“The conservation crisis facing North Atlantic right whales continues with the horrifying news of this new calf being entangled early in its life. Unless the U.S. and Canadian governments take strong action to do what is needed to protect these whales from boats and ropes, more North Atlantic right whales will die and continue the slide to extinction. We know what we need to do to save the species. It is past time for effective on-the-water action, starting with President Biden publishing the updated Vessel Speed Rule.” 

  Oceana Canada was established as an independent charity in 2015 and is part of the largest international advocacy group dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana Canada has successfully campaigned to ban single-use plastics, end the shark fin trade, make rebuilding depleted fish populations the law, improve the way fisheries are managed and protect marine habitat. We work with civil society, academics, fishers, Indigenous Peoples and the federal government to return Canada’s formerly vibrant oceans to health and abundance. By restoring Canada’s oceans, we can strengthen our communities, reap greater economic and nutritional benefits and protect our future. Find out more at www.oceana.ca. 

 Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-quarter of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 300 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, oil and plastic pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles, whales, and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that 1 billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. VisitOceana.orgto learn more.