Canada has closed more fisheries in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in response to the movement of Right Whales in the region.
The dynamic closures are part of new measures the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) announced in April which are designed to protect the endangered species of whales — 18 of which were killed in Canadian and U.S. waters in 2017.
The closures, which are meant to respond to sightings of the whales, will shut down the zones for at least 15 days.
The DFO announced the closures on Saturday evening — with the new rules set to go into effect at 5:00 p.m., on June 6.
By that time all gear, including fishing lines, must be removed from the area.
The new closures will take place in the following areas, known as grids:
The new closures mean that 17 areas in the Gulf are are now — or will be closed — to the snow crab, toad crab, rock crab, lobster and whelk fisheries.
Closures will also be in effect for fixed gear winter flounder and Atlantic halibut fisheries, except in cases where gear is not left unattended, the department said.
Five areas in the Roseway Basin — located off the south-coast of Nova Scotia — have also been closed due to the presence of Right Whales.
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DFO says they’ll inform fisheries prior to the reopening of any closed zones.
The department is still enforcing a static closure along New Brunswick’s northern coast, where 90 per cent of right whales were observed last summer.
The static closure will be enforced from April 28 to June 30.
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.
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