Montreal

Gaspé predicts $2.5M loss after efforts to save whales force cruise ship cancellations

Mayor would have liked to have been consulted before Ottawa changed speed regulation for ships

Right whale freed

The carcasses of 13 right whales have been found in 2017. (Canadian Whale Institute/Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life)

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Tourism officials on the Gaspé Peninsula say their region will be adversely affected by new speed rules imposed on ships to protect an endangered species of whales.

About a third of ships due to dock at the port in Gaspé have cancelled planned stops, resulting in roughly 12,000 fewer tourists in the coastal town.

After 13 carcasses of endangered North Atlantic right whales were discovered in New England and Canadian waters, the federal government implemented new regulations that will force cruise ships to travel at half their usual speed.

Ships travelling in the western Gulf of St. Lawrence from Quebec's North Shore to just north of Prince Edward Island must reduce their speed to a maximum of ten knots.

Gaspé Mayor Daniel Côté says he wishes the federal government's speed rules had been announced sooner,  allowing the cruise lines to adapt their schedules accordingly.

Gaspé Mayor Daniel Côté

Gaspé Mayor Daniel Côté says the region will suffer economic losses following the cancellation of some cruise ships. (Radio-Canada)

"Lots of people profit from the cruise ship industry," said Côté, noting he expects his town will lose about $2.5 million in economic spin-offs this year.  

Taxi and bus companies with service to the iconic Percé Rock are expected to been affected by the cruise ship cancellations.

Ottawa should've consulted locals, Côté says

Côté said the residents are supportive of the government taking measures to save the whales, but he said had local residents been consulted, they may have come up with different solutions.

For example, he said, the massive whales could be avoided easily with the help of a lookout on deck, since they swim along the water's surface.

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