Nova Scotia

Right whale protection measures to return ahead of migration into Canadian seas

The federal government announced speed restrictions and fisheries closures will once again be implemented this year to protect North Atlantic right whales.

Vessel speed restrictions to begin April 20 in Gulf of St. Lawrence

There is a right whale and her calf just breaking the surface of the blue ocean.
A North Atlantic right whale mother and calf swim in waters off Georgia in March 2021. The federal government has announced measures to help protect the critically endangered species. (Georgia Department of Natural Resources/NOAA Permit #20556/The Associated Press)

The federal government has announced its fishery and vessel management measures for the 2022 season to protect North Atlantic right whales as the endangered animals migrate into Canadian waters.

Officials said in a statement Friday the Fisheries Department will once again implement seasonal and temporary fishing area closures in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Bay of Fundy and other "critical habitat areas" where whales have previously been sighted.

They also say Transport Canada is again enforcing vessel traffic measures, including speed restrictions for vessels over 13 metres long, throughout much of the Gulf starting on April 20 to better respond to the presence of right whales.

As well, the Fisheries Department will be working with harvesters to help them switch to "whale-safe gear" in 2023.

Oceana Canada campaign director Kim Elmslie said in a statement Thursday the organization is pleased to see the measures aren't being weakened this year, but more can be done to protect the species.

There are only 330 North Atlantic right whales left globally.

The conservation group is now calling on the government to shift to a permanent management approach with legally binding regulations, noting that ship strikes and gear entanglements are a threat to the species' survival.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook-Canadian Press News Fellowship, which is not involved in the editorial process.