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Fisheries minister announces changes to snow crab season, speed limits to protect right whales

New measures introduced to protect right whales
WATCH ABOVE: North Atlantic right whales are being hit by ships and becoming tangled in fishing gear. The species is on the brink of being extinct. So measures are being taken to protect them. Ross Lord looks at whether the initiatives will work.

Ottawa is changing the dates of the snow crab season and making a speed limit in the Gulf of St. Lawrence permanent in a bid to protect the heavily endangered North Atlantic right whales.

There are only about 450 of the whales left and last summer at least 18 were found dead off the east coasts of Canada and the United States, most having died after getting tangled in fishing gear or being hit by boats.

WATCH: Ottawa is changing the dates of the snow crab season and making a speed limit in the Gulf of St. Lawrence permanent in a bid to protect the heavily endangered North Atlantic right whales. Global National’s Ross Lord has more.

Fisheries minister announces changes to snow crab season, speed limits to protect right whales
Fisheries minister announces changes to snow crab season, speed limits to protect right whales

READ MORE: Concern over endangered North Atlantic right whales, no calves seen in usual areas

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says the speed limit of 10 knots imposed on large ships in the Gulf last year will be reinstated between April 28 and Nov. 15.

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However, two shipping lanes with normal speed limits will be kept open north and south of Anticosti Island as long as no whales are the area.

WATCH: Researchers discuss how to protect North Atlantic Right Whales

Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc is also opening and closing the snow crab fishing season earlier, trying to get snow crab lines out of the water when the whale season is at its heaviest, and will also reduce the amount of equipment in certain areas.

LeBlanc said the government is investing in research this year to test snow fishing equipment with so there are fewer lines in the water which can entangle whales.