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August 14, 2017

Canada is slowing ships in Gulf of St. Lawrence to protect whales

The Government of Canada announced a speed reduction for commercial ships in the Gulf of St. Lawrence following the recent deaths of several North Atlantic right whales.

Canada is implementing a temporary mandatory slow-down of vessels 20 meters or more to a maximum of 10 knots when travelling in the western Gulf of St. Lawrence from the Quebec north shore to just north of Prince Edward Island. This represent a reduction of speed of approximately one third, assuming the average vessel speeds of 15 knots.

Vessels under 20 meters were asked to respect the speed reduction.

Transport Canada inspectors, with assistance from the Canadian Coast Guard's Marine Communications and Traffic Services, will enforce this precautionary measure until the whales have migrated from the areas of concern. Failure to comply will result in an Administrative Monetary Penalty of up to $25,000.

According to the Chamber of Marine Commerce the speed restrictions could lead to delays of up to seven hours depending on the vessel voyage. The Chamber's member shipowners are currently evaluating how this may impact their customers.