Transport Canada has fined six vessels — including two Canadian Coast Guard ships — for speeding through waters that had been subject to a temporary slowdown after eight North Atlantic right whales were reported dead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence since early June.
The ships were collectively issued nearly $50,000 in fines after they failed to comply with a temporary slowdown that had been implemented in the shipping lanes north of Anticosti Island.
WATCH BELOW: July 24 — Scientists return from studying North Atlantic right whales
CCGS Cape Edensaw was fined $6,000 and CCGS Cap D’Espoir $12,000 for violating the slowdown in waters that had been subject to it after the deaths of eight whales — three of whom showed evidence of injuries that were consistent with vessel strikes.
WATCH: July 9: After recent whale deaths in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, new expanded measures by the federal government have been introduced to protect the dwindling right whale population. Alexa MacLean reports.
Also fined were luxury yacht Princess Ashita ($6,000), cargo vessel Oslo Bulk ($6,000), oil tanker Isola Celeste ($6,000) and container ship MSC Diego ($12,000).
“Endangered whales such as the North Atlantic right whale deserve to live in a safe environment in Canadian waters,” Transport Canada said in a news release.
The slowdown in the waters north and south of Anticosti Island was enacted on June 26.
WATCH BELOW: June 27 — Speed limits imposed in Gulf of St. Lawrence after series of right whale deaths
The government later expanded the area to which the slowdown applied, heightened aerial surveillance and increased buffer zones for the areas in which speed restrictions apply, Transport Canada said.
With the slowdown in place, the government found that vessels were using “more direct routes to transit through the Gulf,” a trend that resulted in “more marine traffic coming closer to known whale locations.”
The feds later lifted the speed restrictions on Aug. 2, after 44 surveillance missions did not find any North Atlantic right whales in shipping lanes.
This isn’t the first time that vessels were fined for breaking those speed restrictions, however.
The federal government previously fined Dutch container ship Americaborg and bulk carrier Atlantic Spirit $7,800 each for having exceeded the limits.
Meanwhile, luxury yacht Big Eagle was fined $6,000.
WATCH BELOW: July 6 — Three more North Atlantic right whales entangled off Eastern Canada
Ships facing fines must pay their penalties within 30 days.
They can also ask the Transportation Appeal Tribunal to review their cases, or the amounts they’re being fined.
- With files from Alexander Quon and The Canadian Press