Canada: Revised speed restriction measures in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

The Canadian government has set out speed-restriction measures in the Gulf of St Lawrence, coming into effect on 20 April and running through to November, to protect the North Atlantic right whales (NARW).

Due to changing migration patterns of North Atlantic right whales and their increased presence in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Government of Canada has set seasonal speed restrictions in specific zones. These speed restrictions zones are defined as “static zones”, “dynamic shipping zones”, “seasonal management areas”, a trial “voluntary slowdown zone’’ and a “restricted area”.

Vessels must follow Navigational Warnings outlining the speed restrictions. The Interim Order for the Protection of North Atlantic Right Whales (Eubalaena Glacialis) in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, 2022 enables the issuance of Navigational Warnings (NAVWARNs) imposing speed restrictions and navigation restrictions.

Speed restriction zones are described in monthly Notices to Mariners (NOTMARs), which are published by the Canadian Coast Guard. The status of these zones is broadcasted through NAVWARNs, which are published by the Coast Guard’s Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centres.

For a third and final year, a trial voluntary slowdown of 10.0 knots over the ground spanning from Cabot Strait (a line running from Cape North NS to Cape Ray NL) to the eastern edge of dynamic shipping zone E will be implemented at the beginning and end of the North Atlantic right whale season.

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