CARLETON — The federal department of Fisheries and Oceans and Transport Canada eased slightly the rules for the protection of the right whale in the gulf of St. Lawrence in 2019, including adding a navigation corridor at normal speed and reducing the size of a static area in which commercial fishing was prohibited.
In addition, the lobster fishery will no longer be prohibited for preventive purposes in the coastal areas of the Gaspé and New Brunswick, where the water depth is less than 20 fathoms, or 120 feet, or
36 metres, unless whales are entering.
A prohibition of this type had led to the end of the season three weeks before the time for 70 of the 163 lobster in the gaspé peninsula in the past year because of the whales were observed far offshore.
The lobster in the gaspé peninsula have laid down their losses to $ 2.7 million in spite of the fact that no right whale has only been sighted in their area of capture. This fishing less than 20 fathoms in depth will be reduced to ten fathoms, if a right whale is observed between ten and 20 fathoms, and it will be closed for 15 days if the whale goes under ten fathoms.
For the little egret, the static area of prohibition of fishing in the gulf of St. Lawrence will be taxed as 2018, with effect from 28 April, but the area will be reduced to 2,400 square kilometers, a reduction of 63 % compared to the 6490 square kilometres in the past year.
“We are based on the scientific data to establish this area to be significantly smaller”, said on Thursday, the minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Jonathan Wilkinson, referring to the fact that the whales were not going to an area as large as the static area. A whale watching out of this quadrilateral could lead to temporary shutdowns of 15 days.
Twelve whales have died in canadian waters in 2017, and none in the past year. Entanglement in fishing gear and collisions with vessels are the main causes of alleged death. These causes have been proven that for a minority of the whales died two years ago. There would be only 411 right whales in the world.
Since August of 2017, large areas of the gulf of St. Lawrence have been subject to speed limits of 10 knots for vessels over 20 metres. In 2018, these limits have been in place from 28 April to 15 November, and these dates will be repeated in 2019.
However, commercial navigation will be slightly less limited than in 2018 because of the deployment of a corridor of movement to a normal speed a bit more extensive to the north of the island of Anticosti, in the maintenance corridor to the south of this island, and to the exclusion of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine area of 10 nodes, always provided that the right whales will not venture out into not.
The lobster boat O’neil Cloutier, director of the Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels du sud de la Gaspésie, said, half-glad and half-disappointed by the announcements on Thursday.
“Minister Wilkinson has selected two of the seven measures that we had filed, with the maritime fishermen’s Union. We advance, but we do not call it yet to the consultation. I understand that they [fisheries managers] don’t want to be wrong. […] The ministry speaks of a cohabitation with the whales, but we are out of the water if you see a [whale| less than ten fathoms. This is not cohabitation. There are still grey areas in the protection plan about the size of the quadrilaterals of closure when a whale approaches the coast. I am afraid that the quads still measured six miles by ten. It’s a lot,” he says.
MEASURES WELL RECEIVED BY THE OWNER OF THE SAINT LAWRENCE RIVER, NOT FOR THE LITTLE EGRET
CARLETON — Martin Fournier, Owners of the St. Lawrence, sees a major change in the measures adopted by Transport Canada aimed to facilitate commercial navigation in areas frequented six months of the year by the whales. The enlargement of the navigation corridor between Anticosti and the Lower North Shore responds to an important need, ” he said.
“The Bella-Desgagnés, the ship, which ensures the supply of this sector of the Côte-Nord region, did not go out of the box ten knots maximum speed, then it is subject to a strict schedule. Now, he comes out of it, because of the expansion of the corridor”, deals with Mr. Fournier.
Another irritant has been eliminated, the obligation to reduce speed to ten knots in the navigation corridors if the federal authorities could not do two flights of observation in seven days confirming the absence of whale. “This area has been closed 20% of the time over the past year even if no whales were seen, simply because the two flights in seven days, were not achieved. This year, we lower the threshold to a single flight (…) The government is also committed to deploy the necessary technologies, such as hydrophones, to continue to refine this measure,” added Mr. Fournier.
Daniel Desbois, the Association of little egret in the gaspé peninsula, is, however, extremely disappointed with the new measures. “The decrease in the size of the static area closure does nothing if you don’t push back the closure in mid-may and if the fishing does not commence before April 28. It is enough that the whales come out of the static area for the department to apply additional closures that could cover even bigger than the static area of the past year”.