July 5, 2018 2:21 pm
Updated: July 5, 2018 2:44 pm

Fisheries department investigating after traps placed in right whale protection zones

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is investigating 33 licence holders for violating a ban on fishing equipment in waters closed to protect endangered North Atlantic Right whales.

Alexa MacLean/Global News

Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) are investigating whether 33 licence holders violated measures meant to protect North Atlantic right whales.

The DFO confirmed that they’ve launched the investigations into licence holders after fishing traps were set in areas closed to protect the endangered species of whales.

Canada has closed several fishery zones in the Gulf of St. Lawerence this summer in an attempt to protect right whales, 18 of which were killed in Canadian and U.S. waters in 2017.

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READ MORE: Saving the North Atlantic right whales, one point on a map at a time

DFO says they will not divulge any information about the nature of the investigations or the violations.

“We will not further comment on active investigations,” the DFO said in a statement to Global News.

The 2018 season for lobster and crab fishermen wrapped up on June 30.

Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), 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.

WATCH: Hundreds of lobster fishermen protest changes to industry

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

Fishermen were not happy with the DFO about the new rules, saying they weren’t notified until the last minute about the changes.

“The people in Ottawa that decided this whole plan is a great idea obviously have never been on the water before,” Carl Allen, president of the Maritime Fishermen’s Union, told Global News in April.

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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