Sierra Club and Allies Respond to New Protections for Right Whales in Canada

Media Release - Not Enough Being Done To Prevent Extinction

Sierra Club Canada Foundation is alarmed that not enough is being done to prevent the extinction of North Atlantic right whales in Canada's waters. Sierra Club and allies have signed a joint letter in response to new right whale protection measures announced by the Canadian government.

"We are calling for a slow down of vessels in the entire Gulf of St. Lawrence," states Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Program Director with Sierra Club Canada Foundation. "Aside from preventing immediate causes of these deaths, we have got to tackle chronic threats like seismic blasting and also look at the entire Gulf ecosystem if we want a future that includes right whales.”

Since June, six whales have died in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Canada’s East Coast, three from collisions with vessels. The cause of the remaining deaths have not yet been identified. Three whales are currently entangled in fishing gear in the Gulf.

DFO released a much-anticipated report on right whale threats on Friday, July 6. Canada's Transport Minister Marc Garneau and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Jonathan Wilkinson announced new protection measures on July 8, including a one-week commitment for increased aerial surveys, increasing the number of ships covered by the slow down rules to include vessels 13 metres or larger, and larger slow down zones for ships.

“We have got to switch from being reactive to proactive to save this species. We acknowledge the work being done to triage this crisis, but we need information to be shared and applied more quickly and in a precautionary fashion,” adds Fitzgerald.


For more information:

Gretchen Fitzgerald
National Programs Director
Sierra Club Canada Foundation
Tel: 902.444.7096

The joint statement is available here.


Review of North Atlantic right whale occurrence and risk of entanglements in fishing gear and vessel strikes in Canadian waters, DFO Science Advisory Report, 2019/028:

New Protection Measures Announcement, July 8: