#endangeredwhales, #NorthAtlanticrightwhales, #GulfofSt.Lawrence, #DominicLeBlanc, #MarcGarneau, #TonyaWimmer
Ottawa/Washington, Apr 3 (Canadian-Media) : At least 18 of the endangered whales have been found dead since last year, 12 in Canadian waters and six in U.S waters, federal government reported last week, media reports said.
The primary cause of these deaths scientists believed was human activity including shipping and fishing.
New measures to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales, including an earlier start to the snow crab fishing season in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence -- outlet of the North American Great Lakes via the Saint Lawrence River into the Atlantic Ocean, -- fixed and temporary closures where whales are spotted, and an earlier speed restriction for ships in the western gulf.
Federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc and Transport Canada Minister Marc Garneau indicated the measures are intended to reduce the risk of whale becoming entangled in fishing gear or being struck by ships.
Other measures reported to be taken include, restriction of the speed of the vessels when travelling in the western part of the gulf again this year, will take effect on April 28, instead of Aug. 11, said Marc Garneau and the mandatory speed limit will remain in place until Nov. 15.
These new measures were welcomed by Tonya Wimmer, director of the Marine Animal Response Society and reportedly expressed the changes will help protect many other species as well.
"If we continued to really not do much at all, there are good odds those animals would disappear from this planet," she said.
There were reportedly only about 450 North Atlantic right whales left in the world, and of those, only about 100 are reproducing females.
"So I think the announcements today were very much a reflection of the concern of everyone...we really do have to raise the bar in terms of putting in place measures to protect them."
Although no new calves have been spotted yet this year in the calving grounds off Florida, LeBlanc dismissed any suggestion that the government's measures are too late.
"I'm never pessimistic about these things," he said and added there was an urgency to act quickly.
LeBlanc said all snow crab fishing fleets in the Gulf of St. Lawrence fishing region known as area 12 will begin simultaneously as soon as it was safe to do so.
The season normally begins around mid-April, but a Canadian Coast Guard ice breaker is expected to be in northern New Brunswick later this week or early next week to open some of the fishing harbours, he said.
"We're doing everything we can to open the season as soon as possible," said LeBlanc.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)