Tag Archives: Gulf of St. Lawrence

‘Find some good solutions’: governments, experts, fishermen prepare for 2020 right whale regulations

An annual roundtable meeting held by officials with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has wrapped up after discussing how to deal with the declining North Atlantic right whale population. The subject has become controversial after at least nine confirmed deaths in 2019, with several preliminary findings indicating vessel strikes were the cause. Some of the deaths came despite the Canadian government cracking down tighter on fisheries closures and speed restrictions, but the impact on the fishing industry is part of what makes regulations such a controversial topic. >click to read<  08:43

Fishing industry welcomes move, Emera forced to bury a third of Maritime Link’s submarine cable

Halifax-based energy conglomerate Emera buried 59 kilometres of electrical cables beneath the ocean floor between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland this past summer to protect the Maritime Link from “substantially increased” bottom fishing the company did not see coming. Completed in 2017, the $1.5-billion Maritime Link was built to carry electricity generated from the Muskrat Falls hydro project in Labrador into Nova Scotia and on to New England. The company is responding to an unforeseen explosion in the population of redfish in the Gulf of St. Lawrence,,, >click to read< 10:48

Seals are overfishing at unsustainable rates! Gulf of St. Lawrence cod extinction ‘highly probable,’

“At the current abundance of grey seals in this ecosystem, recovery of this cod population does not appear to be possible, and its extinction is highly probable,” the report says. DFO fish biologist Doug Swain said the cod population is now about five per cent of levels in the 1980s, and the downward spiral is accelerating despite a moratorium on a directed cod fishery in the Gulf since 2009. The problem is an “extremely high” and “unsustainable” death rate for cod five years or older. >click to read< 11:29

2 Canadian Coast Guard ships fined for speeding in right whale slowdown zone

Two Canadian Coast Guard vessels were among the six ships fined Monday after being caught violating speed restrictions aimed at protecting North Atlantic right whales. Transport Canada fined the coast guard ships Cape Edensaw and Cap d’Espoir $6,000 and $12,000 respectively for violating the temporary mandatory slowdown in the shipping lanes north and south of Anticosti Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. >click to read< 09:10

How Ship Strikes Have Become The Greatest Threat To Right Whales

This is the first of a two-part report explaining how vessel strikes happen, why they’re increasing and what’s being done to stop them. In the last month, eight North Atlantic right whales have been found dead in Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence, including two members of the critically endangered species this past week. Canadian authorities say work to determine these new whales’ cause of death is ongoing. Whatever the cause of these latest deaths, researchers worry collisions with ships are increasingly to blame. >click to read<  20:24

International shipping industry under increased scrutiny as whale death toll grows

The shipping industry is under increased scrutiny after two cargo ships were fined for sailing too fast through the Gulf of St. Lawrence, where the rising death toll among endangered North Atlantic right whales has been partly blamed on collisions with vessels. There have been eight deaths reported since early June, and examinations of five of the carcasses showed three of them had injuries consistent with ship strikes, a leading cause of death for these rare mammals. 227 vessels exceeded speed limit in 3 months >click to read< 11:23

Experts track right whale behavior in new trouble spot

Scientists from the U.S. and Canada have returned from a North Atlantic right whale survey trip in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence where they found dense reserves of zooplankton that have drawn 70 or more of the critically endangered marine mammals to the region this summer. They now expect the right whales to move farther north in the coming summers to follow the movement of the food they consume,,, Many of the right whales that visit Cape Cod Bay and south of the islands in the late winter and early spring migrate northward as they follow the movement of zooplankton, especially a rice-sized copepod called calanus. >click to read< 09:58

Mills’ stand on fishing rules praised by lobster industry

As Executive Director of the Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA), I applaud Gov. Mills’ July 11 Message to Maine’s Lobster Industry acknowledging the federal government’s “disturbing lack of evidence connecting the Maine lobster industry to recent right whale deaths.”,,, What is often lost in this debate is that the population of North Atlantic right whales was only 295 in 1997 when federal regulators first required U.S. fishermen to implement conservation measures. In the ensuing years, the right whale population increased to more than 450 whales. >click to read<  11:17

Fishermen volunteer to become 2nd right whale rescue team

Ferron is one of three crab fishermen who volunteered to form a new rescue team based in Shippagan. He, Martin Noël and Rémi Guignard have been training since last winter. The objective is to eventually have a boat to respond quickly to disentanglement calls in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.,,, Jean Lanteigne, director of the Regional Acadian Federation of Professional Fishermen, said the Campobello Whale Rescue team first approached the fishermen to see if anyone was interested in volunteering. Fifteen fishermen showed up for the information session, but three had the time to commit to the training schedule. >click to read< 17:18

More needs to be done to identify travel paths of North Atlantic right whales, scientist says

The Canadian and U.S. governments need to know exactly where North Atlantic right whales are travelling to better protect them, a whale researcher says. “There have been whales in locations that the Canadian government may not have known about, at least early enough, ” said Charles (Stormy) Mayo, director of the North Atlantic Right Whale Ecology program at the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Mass. “It’s a very thorny problem and the more that Canada can do, the better off we are.” >click to read< 20:29

Canada: Two more right whales found dead off east coast, bringing total to eight this year

One of the dead whales was first observed Thursday by an aerial surveillance flight drifting west of the Magdalen Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said in a news release. It was located Friday by a vessel in the area, and a necropsy is scheduled to take place Sunday. Also Friday, the body of a second dead right whale was sighted off Glace Bay, N.S., according to the fisheries department. “Neither of these whales have yet been individually identified,” the department said in a news release, adding that the government “takes this issue very seriously.”,,, No right whales died in Canadian waters last year, but 12 were found dead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2017>click to read<  20:18

Transport Canada – New protective measures announced for North Atlantic right whales

Transport Canada has announced further protective measures in the Gulf of St. Lawrence for the North Atlantic right whale. The measures, announced Monday evening, include further reducing ship speeds in the area, increasing zones in which the speed restrictions will apply, increasing aerial surveillance and funding for initiatives to enhance marine mammal response. In 2019, there have been six whale deaths reported and on July 8, there were three North Atlantic right whales entangled in the southern waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence,,, >click to read<21:03

Right whale protections may not be enough, federal review shows

Measures taken to protect North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence from being struck by ships and getting caught in fishing gear may not be enough, a scientific review by Ottawa shows.,, The review was done late last year by scientists who work in federal departments and universities across Canada, looking at data compiled by marine-mammal experts over the last three years.,, Aerial surveys estimate there were at least 190 right whales in the Gulf last year, half the total known population everywhere. (and none died) >click to read< 12:57

Immediate Action Needed to Save North Atlantic Right Whales – Chris Oliver, Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries >click to read<

Kennebunk Town Column: Invisible lines threaten lobster fishery – Lobstermen are facing the real threat of being forced out of business and a livelihood that they have relied on for many generations. >click to read<

Transport Canada implements speed limits following death of another right whale

Transport Canada has implemented a speed restriction for vessels in the western part of the Gulf of St. Lawrence following yet another death of the endangered North Atlantic right whale on Wednesday. Fisheries and Oceans Canada confirmed a right whale was found dead on the shores of Anticosti Island near the Gulf of St. Lawrence, bringing the number of recent deaths up to five. Scientists are on scene collecting samples for analysis, and working with various partners to assess necropsy options, said a news release from the fisheries department. >click to read<18:07

Researchers regroup in wake of 4 right whale deaths

It’s been a deadly month for the endangered mammals, with the carcasses of two other whales — an adult female and a 9-year-old male — reported June 4 and June 20, also in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Photo analysis of the carcasses found Tuesday identified one as a 33-year-old male named Comet and the other as an unnamed 11-year-old female who had no documented calf, according to New England Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life. The two carcasses were seen near the Acadian Peninsula in New Brunswick and west of the Magdalen Islands in Quebec, according to Canadian officials.,,, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is taking part in preplanned talks with the Canadian government on North Atlantic right whale protections this week in Halifax, Nova Scotia, NOAA spokeswoman Jennifer Goebel said. >click to read<20:56

2 more dead right whales discovered in Gulf of St. Lawrence

Two more dead North Atlantic right whales have been found in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, says Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The whales were located near the Acadian Peninsula of New Brunswick and west of the Magdalen Islands, a department news release said Tuesday. They are the third and fourth confirmed deaths of North Atlantic right whales to be reported in Canadian waters this year. >click to read<07:47

Winter skate are dying in huge numbers, a new scientific paper points the finger at a big herd of seals

A “striking conservation success” in Atlantic Canada has turned into a “serious conservation problem” as rebounding grey seal herds threaten depleted bottom-feeding fish in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, according to a new research paper from Canadian and U.S. scientists. The focus is on the winter skate, a little-known shark relative with a flat body and a long tail. “It’s quite dire. The skate have declined by 98 per cent since the mid-80s,” said Doug Swain, a federal fisheries scientist based in Moncton, N.B. The paper concludes grey seals are the likely cause of an “unprecedented” winter skate annual adult mortality rate of between 65 and 70 per cent. >click to read<09:20

Maine lobster fishery agrees to deep cuts to protect whales

After a long and difficult week in late April in which the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Mammal Take Reduction Team met to address protections for the endangered right whale, the Maine lobster fishery now has a sense of what the future holds. There were some hard battles along the way, in which we lobster industry advocates fought to ensure a viable Maine fishery, both for today’s lobstermen and for future generations. By Patrice McCarron >click to read<14:39

Competing interests – “The farmer and the cowman should be friends,” according to Richard Rodgers’ lyrics in “Oklahoma!” Can a similar peace pact be visited upon Maine’s lobstermen and the advocates of whale safety? >click to read<

Redfish rebound in Gulf of St. Lawrence show no signs of slowdown

Redfish biomass surged by 20 per cent last year and is now estimated at a staggering three million tonnes, according to Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans. “The biomass that we’re seeing right now is something that we have never seen before,” said DFO biologist Caroline Senay of the redfish, also known as ocean perch. The massive population is primarily made of of fish live born — not hatched from eggs — from 2011, 2012 and 2013. The region’s fishing industry has been licking its chops for several years over the prospect of a redfish bonanza.,,,  Eating down northern shrimp. But the sheer size of the population is likely affecting other species. >click to read<12:15

An early start to a late setting day for P.E.I.’s lobster fishermen

The lobster boats are off and heading to a staging area outside the North Rustico harbour on the North Shore of Prince Edward Island Friday morning, waiting for the 6 a.m. start time. According to federal fisheries rules, the boats can’t go until the appointed hour.,,, The wharf and breakwater of North Rustico was crowded with spectators as the boats set out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This year was a bit unusual in that setting day was supposed to be April 29, but because of bad weather it was delayed until May 3. Brian McInnis is a Charlottetown-based freelance photographer. >Excellent photo’s, click to read<11:52

‘Neither country can save the species on its own’ – Reduce amount of rope in water to protect right whales, says U.S. advisory group

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team held four days of meetings ending Friday.
The group proposes the number of lines in the water be reduced by up to 50 per cent in some jurisdictions and that the breaking strength of buoy lines be reduced to 1,700 pounds (771 kilograms) or less. Now the onus is on the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service to consider acting on those recommendations. While researchers from both countries agree that there needs to be less rope in the water, the recommendations are a different approach to that of the Canadian government, which imposed fisheries closures in the Gulf of St. Lawrence last year and again in 2019. >click to read<09:20

Malpeque Harbour channel plugged; fishermen remaining tied up as dredge works at site

When P.E.I.’s lobster fleet heads out for setting day on Monday, their fellow captains in Malpeque Harbour might be left watching from the wharf.
An unprecedented amount of sand has moved in over the winter to choke off the narrow channel that gives the small harbour on P.E.I.’s north shore access to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. A dredger is on site and working to get the passage open but, with setting day tentatively set for April 29, fishermen who use the wharf are worried – and frustrated. >click to read<13:24

FISH-NL calls on Ottawa for ice compensation for west coast harvesters

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) is calling on Ottawa to extend EI benefits for fish harvesters on Newfoundland’s west coast impacted by severe ice conditions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. “Some harvesters and their families are having a hard time of it. The heavy ice means they can’t go fishing, and the wolf is beating at the door,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL, in calling for ice compensation in the form of an EI extension. >click to read<17:15

‘Huge increase’ in fishing ahead – Could a redfish trawling bonanza zap the Maritime Link?

Owners of the Maritime Link are exploring whether the two subsea electrical cables between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia will need to be better protected from fishing gear when seafood companies begin harvesting an exploding biomass of redfish in the region. Scientists say there are at least 2.5 million tonnes of redfish in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and that is expected to trigger an Atlantic Canadian fishing bonanza — including more bottom trawling — when the fish reach harvest size in a year or two. >click to read< 08:59

Seal Fishery Set to Open Tuesday

The seal fishery opens this Tuesday. The fishery will open for longliners, small boats and speed boats on the front and in the Gulf, as well as personal use. DFO has tagged 12 harp seal beaters in the Gulf of St. Lawrence with satellite linked time-depth recorders to track the movement of young seals and determine how they respond to climate change. Harvesters are being asked not to take those tagged seals. The tag is clearly visible and fixed on the animal’s shoulders with an antenna extending over the head. >click to read<15:53

Little Port Harmon fish harvesters hoping for easterly winds

Renny Hickey and Dion Bennett, two fish harvesters out of Little Port Harmon in Stephenville, are wishing for strong easterly winds. That’s because St. George’s Bay is blocked up with the most ice that Hickey says he’s seen there in about 25 years, especially this late. Hickey said he learned Wednesday the crab season is opening this coming Monday and he’s waiting to go but can’t because of the ice in the bay. If the wind from the right direction doesn’t come up before that time, there’s no getting out.Then there’s the lobster season, tentatively set to open on April 18, and he certainly hopes the ice goes out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence before then. >click to read<09:39

FISH-NL: Shrimp quota cut in Gulf of St. Lawrence. Divide between science/fisherman never greater

The Federation of Independent Sea Harvesters of Newfoundland and Labrador (FISH-NL) condemns a 15 per cent cut to the 2019 northern shrimp quota in the Gulf of St. Lawrence for the province’s inshore harvesters. “Our harvesters pushed for an increase — not a cut — but no one’s listening,” says Ryan Cleary, President of FISH-NL. “This is yet another example that the divide between DFO science and fishermen has never been greater.” >click to read<14:36

Striped bass population drops sharply in Gulf of St. Lawrence

The spawning population of striped bass in the Gulf of St. Lawrence plunged in 2018, ending a remarkable run of sustained growth over the past decade, according to a newly released update from Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The average estimate is now about 333,000, down from 900,000 in 2017. DFO’s analysis notes its 2018 estimates vary widely from a low of 154,000 spawners to a high of 623,000. So why has the population of striped bass fallen? “Potentially it may be linked to the last few winters. Since 2017, it’s been very rough winters,” said Martin Mallet, a biologist and executive director of the Maritime Fishermen’s Union. >click to read<10:50

Canada: Scientist, fishermen applaud loosening of whale-protection restrictions

The federal government is easing restrictions aimed at protecting North Atlantic right whales based on data from last year, when no whales were found dead in Canadian waters. Fisheries and Oceans Minister Jonathan Wilkinson and Transport Minister Marc Garneau were in Shippagan on Thursday to announce the changes, which include reducing the area that is out of bounds to fishermen.,, Lobster and crab fishing will not be allowed in the static-closure zone, where 90 per cent of North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence were sighted last year. >click to read<21:45

25-year-moratorium could be lifted as redfish stocks continue to increase in Gulf of St. Lawrence

Island fishermen and the province are working together to make surGulf of St. Lawrence P.E.I. gets its fair share of the redfish quota if the the federal government decides to reopen the industry in the future. A significant increase in redfish stock in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is spurring an interest in reopening redfish harvesting after a moratorium has been in place for nearly 25 years. A renewed commercial fishery would be at least two years away, said Dave MacEwen, P.E.I.’s manager of marine fisheries. Other provinces will be looking for their share of the quota as well, and he wants to make sure Island fishermen are “full participants.” >click to read<19:51