Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans has just announced a new mandatory reporting for Canada’s commercial fishing fleets when they have interactions with marine mammals.
The new rule is driven to protect whales, particularly the critically endangered right whale. The death of dozens of right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence last year is the driving force behind the decision.
The whales were killed by fishing equipment and have already resulted in changes of snow crab fishing practices as the fishing gear for the snow crab has been implicated in the whales deaths.
Doug Wentzell, DFO’s director of fisheries management for the Maritimes, said mandatory reporting is a national initiative and will start as a condition on all new licenses in 2018.
The department has not issued license conditions yet, nor has it defined what it means by interactions.
DFO said the information will be used to make management decisions and align Canada with requirements in U.S. fisheries, which have already been modified to protect whales.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans are also considering what it calls “dynamic closures” in fishing grounds to ensure safe passage for whales.
The decision would temporary close targeted fishing areas where whales are present in numbers deemed significant.
Wentzell did not have a timeline for the use of dynamic closures and discussions of implementation are still in the preliminary process.