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Canada extends Snow Crab fishing season, closes area due to endangered whales

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is shutting down snow crab season.
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is shutting down snow crab season. AP Photo/Ben Margot

The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is extending the window to snow crab fisherman in Atlantic Canada, while making a move to protect an endangered species of whale in the area.

The season was supposed to end on the July 14, but the window has now been increased by two weeks so that the season will now end at 11:59 p.m. on July 28. The season will be extended throughout most of snow crab fishing area 12. 

The move comes in response to a number of deaths to endangered whales and the death of Joe Howlett, a whale rescuer.

READ MORE: New Brunswick island mourns fisherman who freed dozens of entangled whales

Global News has acquired a notice to fish harvesters that states a temporary ban on snow crab fishing activity will come into effect at 4:00 p.m. (ADT) on July 14 in a limited area.

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That information was announced through a press release on Wednesday, though the area of the closure wasn’t announced at the time.

The orange blocks on the map below are the areas no longer open to crab fisherman:

The ban, in the areas known to be frequented by whales, is set to expire at the same time as the newly established end to the crab fishing season.

The death of Joe Howlett

Joe Howlett was killed Monday after freeing a North Atlantic right whale that had been entangled in fishing gear.

Howlett had rescued over two dozen whales during the last 15 years. Video has even emerged of Joe Howlett doing what he loved — freeing whales.

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WATCH: Joe Howlett Untangling a right whale in the Bay of Fundy

Click to play video 'Untangling a right whale in the Bay of Fundy' Untangling a right whale in the Bay of Fundy
Untangling a right whale in the Bay of Fundy – Jul 13, 2017

Organizations throughout the world continued to issue condolences to Howlett’s family on Thursday.

The Canadian Whale Institute, an organization that worked closely with Howlett, released a statement calling him a “brave friend and hero.”

READ MORE: American agency suspends whale rescue efforts after death of New Brunswick fisherman

Researchers at the New England Aquarium passed along their condolences on Thursday. In a statement, they called Howlett a “long-time and beloved colleague… who courageously rescued whales and bridged both the fishing and scientific communities.”

“Joe’s dedication to saving entangled whales was as deep as his love of fishing. He was truly a hero whose passion for the ocean transcended diverse groups of people and opinions,” said Scott Kraus, head of the aquarium’s right whale research program.

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“We will miss his endless good cheer, his thoughtful presence, and his steady hand at the helm.”

Endangered North Atlantic Right Whales

The deaths of at least seven North Atlantic right whales in the past few weeks have also contributed to the DFO’s decision.

They cite a need to mitigate and minimize risks to species for the limited closure.

Tonya Wimmer of the Marine Animal Response Society told the Canadian Press that the deaths are “unprecedented,” amounting to more than one per cent of the 500 North Atlantic right whales believed to be roaming the seas.

— With files from the Canadian Press and Ross Lord, Global News