Report | July, 2020

Dangerous Passage: Make 10 knots mandatory for ships in the Cabot Strait


North Atlantic right whales are a critically endangered species. At least 31 North Atlantic right whales were killed between 2017 and 2020 – 21 of them in Canadian waters. Only 10 calves were born this season and we have already lost two of them to ship strikes – one confirmed and one presumed death. Immediate action must be taken to prevent their extinction. One clear way right whales can be protected is by slowing down ships.

Using Global Fishing Watch data, which is a component of the new, innovative tool called Ship Speed Watch, Oceana Canada tracked ship speeds in the Cabot Strait from April 28 to June 15, 2020. During this 49-day period, Transport Canada asked vessels longer than 13 metres to slow down to 10 knots. Exceptionally few complied, with 67 per cent of the ships (464 out of 697) travelling faster than the 10-knot limit, and some vessels even travelling 20 knots or faster. At this speed, right whales have little chance of surviving a collision.

As a result of these findings, Oceana Canada is urgently calling on Transport Canada to make the slowdown zone in the Cabot Strait mandatory.

Press release

Launch video

Ship Speed Watch

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Media contact:

Tammy Thorne (Oceana Canada),, 437-247-0954