North Atlantic Right Whale Entanglement Prompts Fishing Closure in Gulf of St. Lawrence

North Atlantic Right Whale Entanglement Prompts Fishing Closure in Gulf of St. Lawrence

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has taken action to safeguard North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence after a distressing sighting. A critically endangered North Atlantic right whale was discovered with gear tangled around its mouth, prompting an immediate closure of part of the Gulf to non-tended, fixed-gear fishing.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has taken action to safeguard North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence after a distressing sighting. A critically endangered North Atlantic right whale was discovered with gear tangled around its mouth, prompting an immediate closure of part of the Gulf to non-tended, fixed-gear fishing.

Spotted northeast of New Brunswick, the whale was located far from land, near the Acadian Peninsula and northwest of Quebec's Magdalen Islands during routine aerial surveillance. This marks the first sighting of a North Atlantic right whale in Canadian waters this season.

As per closure protocols, an area of approximately 2,000 square kilometres around the whale's position has been closed to non-tended, fixed gear fisheries for 15 days. This temporary closure affects grids GW44-46, GX44-46, and GY44-46, effective from 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

Preliminary identification suggests that the entangled whale is EG4510, also known as Shelagh, an adult female. Fisheries and Oceans Canada's marine mammal response program is actively monitoring the situation, collaborating with partners to determine response options. If the whale is relocated and conditions permit, efforts will be made to disentangle it.

The type and origin of the gear entangling the whale are yet to be determined and typically require investigation. With only around 350 to 360 North Atlantic right whales left globally, conservation efforts are crucial. This year has seen at least four documented North Atlantic right whale deaths, all females, along with concerns about the survival of several calves.

Federal fisheries measures, mirroring those from the previous year, aim to protect North Atlantic right whales in Canadian waters. These measures include temporary fishing closures in areas where whales are sighted, with potential fines for violations. Effective since April 17, these measures remain in place until November 15.

Source: Bobbi-Jean Mackinnon (May 13, 2024). Entangled North Atlantic right whale prompts fishing closure in Gulf of St. Lawrence. CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/north-atlantic-right-whale-entangled-gear-gulf-of-st-lawrence-female-shelagh-1.7202592#:~:text=Facebook-,An%20endangered%20North%20Atlantic%20right%20whale%20with%20gear%20entangled%20around,Peninsula%20in%20northeastern%20New%20Brunswick.