The North Atlantic Right Whale is an endangered species that migrates along the coast of the United States, through the Cabot Strait and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence each year.
Earlier this year, the Government of Canada introduced measures to help reduce the risk of ships striking the whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. One of the measures taken was a reduction in vessel speeds to 10 knots in sections of the Gulf where the whales have been spotted.
While Marine Atlantic’s sailing routes are considered a transitory zone for the whales, and not currently subject to the speed reduction zone, we have undertaken measures to do our part to protect the whales. We currently participate in weekly meetings with Transport Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to share information and receive status reports as to the whales’ locations and migration patterns. Our bridge crews have also been directed to keep extra watch for the whales and report any sightings which can be shared with the Government of Canada for decision-making and monitoring purposes.
Should the speed reduction zone be shifted to the Cabot Strait due to an increased number of whale sightings, Marine Atlantic has developed operational and mitigation plans. If necessary, these plans will be shared directly with customers notifying of any potential changes to our schedule.
Recognizing the endangered status of the whales and the challenges they face, it is very important for all of us to do our part to protect this species. We will continue working with Transport Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and will provide updates through our website, social media channels, and the media as information becomes available.
Marine Atlantic remains committed to doing our part in helping to protect the North Atlantic Right Whale.