FILE/CANADIAN WHALE INSTITUTE A
rightwhale is shown in this handout photo. Two new areas that teem with
endangered North Atlantic right whales have been given special protections
against container traffic.
measures `critical step' for recovery
Marine experts are
welcoming new fed eral measures designed to protect the endangered right whale,
but they say much more needs to be done.
government has added two right whale feeding areas to the Species at Risk Act
as part of on-going efforts to preserve and expand the fragile population of
North Atlantic right whales.
Laurie Murison, executive
director of the Grand Marian Whale and Seabird Research Station, said the
addition of the Grand Marian Basin in the Bay of Fundy and the Roseway Basin
off Nova Scotia is a critical step.
But she said it's the
long trek the whales take each year to get into those feeding zones that is now
"The definition of critical habitats has been
worked on quite a bit, but the actual movements of the whales have yet to be
incorporated in some way," Murison said.
thing about drawing boxes on a chart is that people then assume that is the
only place these animals are going to be."
designated areas are where right whales feed on plankton after spending the
winter off the southern United States.
Although there was
a record number of right whale calves born in winter nursery waters this year,
the population still sits at approximately 400 mammals.
The new measures mean Ottawa is obligated to legally
protect the feeding grounds from activities that might harm right whales or
disturb their food supply.
Some of the measures are
already in place, including the relocation of ship-ping lanes in the bay
between Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
measures will be put in place within the next 180 days.
Moira Brown, a Canadian expert on right whales and a
senior scientist with the New England Aquarium in Boston, said only about two
thirds of migrating right whales relocate to the Bay of Fundy and the Roseway
"So there has to be another feeding area where
mothers bring their calves."
The New England Aquarium
provided all of its data to Fisheries and Oceans to help create an informed
Brown said that the next stage is for
Fisheries and Oceans to take the lead on implementing the strategy. She said
whale entanglement in fishing lines while migrating should be the next issue
"Now we can move to the next major human
activity," she said. "It's almost a shopping list of things that we need to do
to promote right whale recovery.
"There was a bit of an
overlap between the lobster fisheries in November in the Bay of Fundy and there
are also some other fisheries that are carried out when right whales are off
the coast of Nova Scotia."
There was a spike in the
number of right whales entangled in lobster trap ropes this year.
David Millar of the federal Fisheries Department said
more critical feeding areas may yet be identified.
recovery strategy sets out the general objectives, goals and approaches, but we
will have a follow up action plans that are required under the act on how to
implement the strategy"
Murison said it may be
unrealistic to think that someday the entire right whale migration channel will
be safeguarded. She said experts will need to continue working on potential
compromises with industry.
"It would be nice to have the
entire migration recognized, but it's not going to happen because when you
actually get into legislating these areas it gets awful complicated," Murison
said. "The actual migration routes are still a work in progress on how you give
the whales any protection because it's such a huge area."
Right whales get added
federal government is enhancing protections for endangered North Atlantic right
whales by adding two important feeding grounds to the Species at Risk Act. The
Roseway Basin off Nova Scotia and the Grand Manan Basin in the Bay of Fundy
have been added as critical habitats in the act The measure means Ottawa is
obligated to legally protect the areas from activi ties that might harm it. The
feeding grounds are important for the massive mammals as they migrate from
breed ing grounds in the southern United States to Canadian waters, where they
feed in the summer. There are only about 400 of the animals left in the world.