Canada fines two ships for excessive speed in whale zone

The following is text of a news release from Transport Canada:

(OTTAWA) — Endangered whales such as the North Atlantic right whale deserve to swim danger-free in Canadian waters. That is why the government of Canada has introduced several measures to address the risks that they face by both marine shipping and fishing activity.

On Sunday, Transport Canada issued monetary penalties of $7,800 to each of the vessels Americaborg and Atlantic Spirit for alleged noncompliance of the temporary mandatory slowdown. The vessels’ owners have 30 days to pay their penalty or to ask the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada to review the facts of their individual violations or the amounts of their penalties.

On July 8, Transport Canada implemented additional precautionary measures to those already in effect since April 28, to address the risks whales face from vessel activity. These included expanding the current slowdown zone further east where vessels are required to travel at 10 knots throughout the season, and a new slowdown shipping lane where vessels are required to slow down to 10 knots when a North Atlantic right whale is spotted in the area. Mandatory speed restrictions were expanded to include any vessel over 13 meters (42.6 feet) long; previously the restriction applied to vessels 20 meters (65.6 feet) and over.

In addition, Transport Canada augmented its whale monitoring activity with its National Aerial Surveillance Program. Information from increased surveillance is being analyzed to determine best practices and inform any additional measures that may be required to protect whales this season.

While the shipping industry has been overwhelmingly compliant in respecting these measures, there are still some exceptions, and Transport Canada is examining all reported cases of non-compliance.

“The government of Canada is determined to take all necessary steps to enable marine mammals to safely coexist with ship traffic in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. We remain committed to working with the marine shipping industry, science experts, and our United States partners to monitor and protect the North Atlantic right whale," said Marc Garneau, minister of transport.

By Professional Mariner Staff