In an effort to protect North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Canadian government announced the enforcement of the speed restriction for vessels in the area.
In particular, on 11 August, Transport Canada implemented a temporary mandatory slow down of vessels 20 metres or more to a maximum of 10 knots. The speed restriction applies to vessels travelling in the western Gulf of St. Lawrence, between the Quebec north shore and just north of Prince Edward Island.
To ensure compliance, Transport Canada, in cooperation with the Canadian Coast Guard and its Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centres, has been monitoring marine traffic in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
“Overall, the shipping industry has been proactive in respecting the speed limits. In some instances, vessels have exceeded the 10-knot limit, most of which were slightly higher for a short amount of time. These are being reviewed on a case by-case-basis by Transport Canada. The department is examining all reported cases of non-compliance,” Transport Canada informed.
In one case, Transport Canada has taken action by issuing a $6,000 penalty to the Seven Seas Navigator vessel.
“Canada takes the protection, conservation, and recovery of endangered species very seriously. The recent deaths of several North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence are extremely concerning. Transport Canada will not hesitate to enforce the speed restriction in the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” said Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport.
Canada has shown again in the past a commitment to whales’ protection, with Vancouver port taking the lead in reducing underwater noise.