The Canadian government has imposed fines on two ships for breaking mandatory speed limits set in the Gulf of St. Lawrence meant to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales from vessel strikes.
Transport Canada issued the fines Friday in the amount of $7,800 to each of the vessels named Americaborg and Atlantic Spirit.
The vessel owners now have 30 days to pay the penalty or appeal.
The mandatory speed restrictions are part of the Government of Canada’s effort to protect the North Atlantic right whale population.
On July 8, 2019, Transport Canada implemented additional precautionary measures to the 10 knot mandatory speed limit already in effect for vessel’s over 20 meters since April 28, 2019. These included expanding the current slowdown zone further east where vessels are required to travel at 10 knots throughout the season, and a new slowdown shipping lane where vessels are required to slow down to 10 knots when a North Atlantic right whale is spotted in the area. Mandatory speed restrictions were also expanded to include any vessel over 13 meters long, down from 20 meters previously.
Transport Canada says that in addition to seasonal speed restrictions, it has also augmented its whale monitoring activity with its National Aerial Surveillance Program, which provides increased surveillance to help determine best practices and inform any additional measures that may be required to protect whales during the season.
“The Government of Canada is determined to take all necessary steps to enable marine mammals to safely coexist with ship traffic in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. We remain committed to working with the marine shipping industry, science experts, and our United States partners to monitor and protect the North Atlantic Right whale,” said Marc Garneau, Canada’s Minister of Transport.
The fines were the first imposed by Transport Canada this season.