New measures to protect right whales

News 23 January, 2018
  • Photo AFP

    Maxime Huard

    Tuesday, 23 January 2018 12:09

    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 12:11

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    OTTAWA | The federal government will impose this year a new series of measures to reduce the risk of interaction lethal between Atlantic right whales and fishing gear in the gulf of St. Lawrence.

    At least 12 right whales, an endangered species of disappearance, died during the summer of 2017, of which several came into collision with boats or entangled in fishing gear.

    The department of Fisheries and Oceans presented on Tuesday, four new measures that will apply to fishing snow crab as of the opening of the next season in the spring.

    The fishermen will first have to reduce the amount of strings, which float to the surface of the water. It will no longer be only 3.7 metres of rope between a buoy and main buoy secondary, which is used to recover the traps of crab. There was no restriction on the lengths of rope before.

    Also, the ropes connecting the traps crab buoy main will now have to be weighted to hang vertically in the water.

    Color marking

    The fishermen also will be required to put a new color marking on their equipment according to their sector of activity, and mark a number on each of their buoys. This aims to better identify the areas where occur the entanglement, because the whales may be dragging the fishing gear over hundreds of miles.

    All fishing gear lost, its last known position, must also be reported.

    “Before and during the season, we inspecterons fishing equipment meticulously, and the new rules will be enforced aggressively. Those who do not submit will face the consequences,” assured the minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Dominic Leblanc, at a press conference in New Brunswick.

    Violators will be prosecuted by federal authorities under the fisheries Act. The possible sanctions are still not known. The minister Leblanc said he expected the full cooperation of the industry in this folder.

    Among the other measures envisaged, Ottawa is in discussion with the coast guard of the possibility of getting ahead of the season of snow crab fishing, which usually begins around mid-April. This initiative would enable fishermen to end their activities in some areas before the arrival of the whales.

    Since there is still a strong presence of ice in ports at the end of march, the coast guard has yet to determine whether icebreakers will be able to allow such a scenario.

    The protection measures announced Tuesday are the first of many more to come in the course of the year, according to the ministry. The speed limit imposed on ships over the last year in the western gulf should again be put in place in 2018.

    The right whale of the North Atlantic, a species that is protected in Canada under the Act the species at risk act. There is only about 450 specimens in the world.