Six vessels including two Canadian Coast ships have been fined for speeding in a zone aimed at protecting whales.
In response to the recent deaths of North Atlantic right whales, the Government of Canada took substantial actions. This included implementing a temporary mandatory slowdown in the shipping lanes north and south of Anticosti Island on June 26, 2019, as well as the implementation of additional measures on July 8, 2019, such as increasing the areas for slowdowns, slowing down more ships, increasing the buffer zones in which speed restrictions apply, and increasing aerial surveillance. These measures were in addition to those implemented on April 28, 2019, which includes a large slowdown area throughout much of the Gulf.
During the slowdown period, because the speed limit was the same throughout the Gulf area, data shows that vessels were using more direct routes to transit through the Gulf instead of using the shipping lanes. This has resulted in more marine traffic coming closer to known whale locations. In order to encourage vessel traffic in areas where no North Atlantic right whales have been spotted, as of August 2, 2019 vessels, were once again encouraged to maximise efficient routes to transit through the Gulf, moving at safe operational speed limits through the designated shipping lanes.
Transport Canada also augmented its whale monitoring activity with its National Aerial Surveillance Program. Information from increased surveillance is being analysed to determine best practices and inform any additional measures that may be required to protect whales this season.
This week, Transport Canada has issued six fines for non-compliance of the temporary mandatory slow down. 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.
The six ships include an MSC container ship, two other cargo vessels a super yacht and two Canadian coast guard vessels. The MSC Diego was fined C$12,000 as was CCGS Cap d'Espoir one of the Canadian Coast Guard vessels. The other four ships were handed C$6,000 penalties.
Commenting on the penalties issued, Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport said, "Vessels must transit in a way that does not harm the endangered North Atlantic right whale population. When they exceed the set speed limits, we won't hesitate to issue fines. The Government of Canada remains committed to working with the marine shipping industry, science experts, and our American partners to monitor and protect the North Atlantic right whale."