The Shipping Federation of Canada supports the 2019 mitigation measures for the protection of North Atlantic Right Whales (NARW) that were announced by the Minister of Transport and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans earlier today.

The approach for 2019 will be very similar to what was in place for 2018, and comprises a mandatory 10-knot static speed reduction zone in the western Gulf of St. Lawrence as of April 28, along with the re-introduction of four dynamic zones in the shipping lanes north and south of Anticosti Island, in which vessels will be permitted to travel at safe operational speeds when no NARW are observed.

The implementation of a dynamic management approach – which allows for closer alignment between speed reductions and the presence of whales –  worked well in 2018.  No deaths of NARW were reported in Canadian waters and the industry recorded a vessel compliance rate of over 99%.

Despite the success of these measures to date, they are still very much a work in progress.  Indeed, we have joined forces with other industry partners to urge the government to proceed with a pilot project during the 2019 season to assess the feasibility and benefits of adding real time acoustic detection technologies such as gliders to further enhance the efficiency of the current protection measures that are in place in the shipping lanes.

Our shipowner members, as well as the masters and crew of their vessels, are committed to ensuring the safe co-existence of ships and whales, and will continue to do their part to implement the measures that are necessary to achieve this essential objective.