Ottawa fines two cargo ships for speeding in right whale protection zone

Fines of $7,800 each handed to a Dutch container ship, a bulk carrier registered in Hong Kong

The federal government is fining two cargo ships for allegedly breaking new speed limits introduced in an attempt to prevent endangered right whales from being struck by boats.

On Friday, Transport Canada handed penalties of $7,800 each to the Americaborg, a Dutch container ship, and the Atlantic Spirit, a bulk carrier registered in Hong Kong.

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Ottawa brought in new measures earlier this month that expanded a slowdown zone in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and required vessels in one shipping lane to reduce their speed to 10 knots when a North Atlantic right whale is spotted in the area.

Transport Canada says other efforts include closing more fisheries and increasing aerial surveillance, with five aircraft tracking the marine mammals daily.

Since early June, eight right whales have died in Canadian waters, the worst death toll since 2017 when there were 12 confirmed deaths in Canadian waters and five in the United States. Fisheries Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said Tuesday only one death has been reported since the “aggressive” new measures came into effect on July 8 to protect the planet’s 400 remaining right whales.

Instead of heading to their traditional summer foraging grounds in the Bay of Fundy and the Roseway Basin off southwestern Nova Scotia, the population has shifted to a more northerly destination — right into the busy shipping lanes of the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The Canadian Press

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