Quick response will be critical during upcoming right whale season | Ecology Action Centre

Quick response will be critical during upcoming right whale season

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, February 27, 2020 

K’jipuktuk (Halifax) -- Today, Canada announced enhanced measures aimed at preventing further injury and death of the endangered North Atlantic right whale. 

They pick up where emergency measures left off in 2019, with important additions including an extension to required and voluntary slow down areas, adaptive fishery closures, and acoustic detection. The arrays of sound equipment used to detect the presence of right whales will be added to existing aerial monitoring the government relies on to trigger closures.  

Shannon Arnold, Senior Marine Program Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre, says that while the announced measures are a strong start, environmental groups are still concerned we will see additional right whale deaths this season. 

“We expect the government to have a high level of monitoring and surveillance and data analysis in place throughout the season to proactively adapt to changes to where right whales are moving and gathering,” Arnold says. 

EAC would also like to see an emergency plan ready in the event of a new right whale death. Last year, there were nine new deaths and four entanglements. Emergency measures were added mid-way through the season, and only after a delay.  

“We want to make sure the government is ready to respond quickly should the announced measures fail,” Arnold says. 

The EAC has been in dialogue with Ministers and their departments for the past three years, including contributions to the roundtable discussion on development measures.  

“We support many of the decisions made to mitigate fishing and shipping activity and recognise the considerable efforts of government, industry, researchers, and marine mammal rescuers have made. ”  

Arnold says both the survival of the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale and the sustainability of fishing and shipping industry, crucial to the economic well-being to many communities around the Gulf of St Lawrence, are at risk.  

And with approximately 400 right whales left, less than 100 of which are reproductive females, time is running out.  

“The death of any right whale is one too many,” Arnold says, “If the recent trajectory continues, right whales will be functionally extinct in 20 years.” 

For more information, please contact: 

Shannon Arnold 
Senior Marine Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre 
sarnold@ecologyaction.ca 
(902) 446-4840 

The Ecology Action Centre is a member-based environmental charity in Nova Scotia, providing leadership on the critical issues of biodiversity protection, climate change, and environmental justice.

Photo: Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO)

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