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Right whale protection measures to return ahead of migration into Canadian seas

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HALIFAX -

The federal government has announced its fishery and vessel management measures for the 2022 season to protect North Atlantic right whales as the endangered animals migrate into Canadian waters.

Officials said in a statement Thursday the Fisheries Department will once again implement seasonal and temporary fishing area closures in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Bay of Fundy and other "critical habitat areas" where whales have previously been sighted.

They also say Transport Canada is again enforcing vessel traffic measures, including speed restrictions for vessels over 13 metres long, throughout much of the Gulf starting on April 20 to better respond to right whale presence.

As well, the Fisheries Department will be working with harvesters to help them switch to "whale safe gear" in 2023.

Oceana Canada campaign director Kim Elmslie said in a statement today the organization is pleased to see the measures aren't being weakened this year, but more can be done to protect the species with only 330 right whales left globally.

The conservation group is now calling on the government to shift to a permanent management approach with legally binding regulations, noting that ship strikes and gear entanglements are a threat to the species' survival.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 10, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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