In a tweet from Canada’s Fisheries and Oceans twitter account, they have announced that there are currently three North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence entangled in netting.
Fisheries and Oceans also stated that surveillance is underway to monitor their location and health while they continue to work with response partners to see if disentanglement is possible.
This stunning development comes just after six of the very same endangered whales have died in the same area. Most, if not all, of the deaths are from the whales been struck by ships.
Today, roughly 450 North Atlantic right whales remain in the seas. The species migrates from the southern coast of the United States in the winter to the colder and rich waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence for the summer where boat strikes have been a major concern.
The Canadian Government has been acting to try and protect the North Atlantic right whales but not at a pace that is nearly quick enough. Prior procedures called for ships to slow down in a shipping lane when a right whale was spotted in the lane, leaving the possibility of error and death to be high.
Due to the recent deaths, on July 9th the government will put into affect measures to protect the marine mammals by slowing down more ships, increasing the zones in which speed restrictions will apply, increasing aerial surveillance, and funding for initiatives to enhance marine mammal response.
Canada will be working with the United States to hopefully introduce joint measures as the whales do routinely cross international waters.
The country has spent the last three years trying to find the best solution possible to protect the animals. Prior protective measures included:
- On February 7, 2019, Ministers Wilkinson and Garneau announced the Government of Canada’s 2019 plan for protecting North Atlantic right whales;
- In 2018, the Government of Canada put urgent measures in place, which included shutting down the Snow Crab fishery in the area to minimize gear entanglements, increasing surveillance, and implementing a slowdown on large vessels to avoid collisions; and
- 2017 was the first year the Government of Canada put in place specific measures to protect North Atlantic Right Whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Unfortunately for the animals, and the three that are now entangled, enough action has not been taken. Public pressure, particularly from residents in Canada, need to be put on officials to ensure they do anything and everything to protect the last of this dying species.