Oceana Canada encouraged by new North Atlantic right whale protection measures but says more needs to be done to save species from extinction - Oceana Canada

Oceana Canada encouraged by new North Atlantic right whale protection measures but says more needs to be done to save species from extinction

Press Release Date: February 27, 2020

Ottawa, ON – Today, Fisheries, Oceans and Canadian Coast Guard Minister Bernadette Jordan and Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced the 2020 management measures to protect North Atlantic right whales, one of the most endangered whales on the planet. The future of the species is threatened by entanglements in fishing gear and ship strikes.

Protecting all right whales from human activity is critical to their survival. Oceana Canada is encouraged by the new measures to help reduce the likelihood of deaths in Canadian waters, but more needs to be done to ensure their survival.

In response to this announcement, Oceana Canada’s Campaign Director, Kim Elmslie, issued the following statement:

“It is good to see the government is continuing to implement measures to protect North Atlantic right whales from the threats of ship strikes and entanglements in fishing gear that are adaptive based on the location of the whales as they return to Canadian waters. However, the success of these measures depends on surveillance. Fishing zone closures and speed requirements for vessels are triggered based on whale sightings, so we strongly urge the government to step up surveillance.

Oceana Canada supports the announcement today that in addition to aerial surveillance, the government will now use acoustic detections using hydrophones and a drone to help detect whales in Canadian waters.

Among the new measures is a voluntary speed reduction to 10 knots for large vessels in the Cabot Strait. This is the route that all right whales take to enter or exit the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Oceana Canada is disappointed that this reduction is not mandatory.

Oceana Canada welcomes the new protocols for temporary closures of fishing areas, including expanded area around the Bay of Fundy and the potential for season-long closure areas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence when more than one whale is sighted, because any rope in the water poses a threat to right whales. However, once again the success of these measures depends on sufficient surveillance.

What is notably missing in today’s announcement is an emergency response plan in the event of a right whale death in Canadian waters this year. With only about 400 of these animals left, and fewer than 100 reproductive females, the death of any right whale is one too many. Their survival depends on us.”

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Contact: Kathleen Munro (Pilot PMR on behalf of Oceana Canada), Kathleen.munro@pilotpmr.com, 416.462.0199 x250, 902.789.3165

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 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.