Ottawa imposes new rules to protect fragile population of right whales

Canada is rolling out new measures to protect the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale, but federal officials insisted today the rules won’t lead to more fishing closures in the Gulf of St. Lawrence or the Bay of Fundy.

Officials say the changes are needed to deal with the fact that the whales’ movements in Canadian waters have become difficult to predict.

Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan says the new rules are aimed at reducing the main causes of the whales’ population decline – ship strikes and entanglements with fishing gear.

To prevent entanglements, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will impose new, season-long fishing closures in areas where whales are gathering in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

As well, the department will expand temporary fishing closures into the Bay of Fundy, impose new gear-marking requirements and authorize trials for ropeless fishing gear in closed areas.

Meanwhile, Transport Canada says vessels longer than 13 metres will be required to comply with new rules to reduce ship strikes, including new speed limits for a vast areas off northeastern New Brunswick and southeast of Anticosti Island.


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