April 24, 2018 2:00 pm

Ottawa will enforce new lobster fishing measures along N.B. coast to protect right whales

THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Robert F. Bukaty, File

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has told New Brunswick lobster fishermen that new rules will be enforced this season to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales.

The department issued the notice to fish harvesters on Tuesday, which includes several new measures that will impact the lobster industry.

The decision comes after 18 North Atlantic right whales were killed in Canadian and U.S. waters last year.

WATCH: New measures introduced to protect right whales

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DFO will close parts of the water off the coast of New Brunswick to lobster fishermen, as they believe three whales died as a result of entanglement in fishing gear.

The department says a static closure will be enforced along New Brunswick’s northern coast, where 90 per cent of right whales were observed over the summer.

The static closure will be enforced from April 28 to June 30.

READ MORE: Deaths of Right whales cost Gulf snow crab fishery its sustainable designation

Fisheries and Oceans says it will also enforce dynamic management closures, which will shut down fishing activities for a minimum of 15 days when the presence of North Atlantic right whales is observed.

Other measures lobster fishermen will have to adhere to include reducing the amount of rope floating on the surface of the water, a requirement to report all lost fishing gear, informing Fisheries and Oceans of all marine mammal interactions, and reporting sightings of live, free-swimming whales to Fisheries and Oceans.

READ MORE: Crews hope to free ‘prolific’ female right whale named Kleenex from rope on jaw

Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced changes to the dates of the snow crab season back in March, in an attempt to protect right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The speed limit was also reduced to 10 knots for large ships in the Gulf last year and will be reinstated between April 28 and Nov. 15.

There are believed to be fewer than 450 North Atlantic right whales remaining.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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