The ships would not cut their speed to protect right whales

Les navires ne réduiraient pas leur vitesse pour protéger les baleines noires

Photo: Michael Dwye Archives Associated Press
Thirty right whales have died off the coast of Canada and the United States since 2017.

Two-thirds of the ships passing through the strait of Cabot would not cut voluntarily their speed to protect right whales of the North Atlantic, in critical danger of extinction, that migrate through the area, according to a body ecologist.

Oceana Canada has published on Tuesday a study that concluded that between 28 April and 15 June, in the Cabot strait, 67 % of the vessels studied, 464 of 697 — would have exceeded the limit of 10 knots proposed last winter by Ottawa in a ” trial of slowing “. However, according to the organization, when a boat hits a whale at 10 knots, there was little chance that the animal will survive.

If most of the offenders (366) exceed a little the required speed, browsing between 10 and 14 knots, the ten vessels exceeded 20 knots — double the size of the limit requested. According to the organization, it is clear that the ” slowing up “, requested by Ottawa is not working : this measure in the Cabot strait should therefore be made mandatory to protect the whales from collisions with ships, ” before it is too late “.

Kim Elmslie, director of the campaign on the right whale to Oceana Canada, reminds us that the cetaceans don’t have the luxury to wait. “We were shocked by the high level of non-compliance “, she wrote in an email. Oceana Canada is asking Ottawa to make it mandatory to the extent of a slowdown in the Cabot strait, from the 1st of October, so that must be started in the second period of voluntary reduction of speed.

The Cabot strait, between the island of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, and the western tip of Newfoundland and Labrador, is a corridor essential for the right whales of the North Atlantic migrate to the gulf of St. Lawrence, where they feed on small crustaceans. Transport Canada has adopted the voluntary reduction of speed this year in the framework of a series of measures to protect the species, of which there remains only approximately 400 individuals on the planet.

The slowdown in voluntary for vessels over 13 metres was in force from 28 April to 15 June, period during which the whales are entering, usually in the gulf of St. Lawrence. The limit of 10 knots — the equivalent of 18.5 km/h — must be re-established between 1 October and 15 November, another period of migration.

Right whales have appeared this year for the first time in canadian waters in early may, which resulted in the temporary closure of fisheries with fixed gear, under new federal rules.

Thirty right whales have died off the coast of Canada and the United States since 2017, two-thirds of the deaths have occurred in canadian waters. Most of them are dead following a collision with a ship, but some of them have been victims of entanglement in fishing gear.

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