OTTAWA - A temporary speed limit imposed on ships in the Gulf of St. Lawrence has been lifted.

The speed limit was imposed in August in an effort to help North Atlantic right whales avoid being fatally struck by ships.

Seventeen of the highly endangered whales died off the east coasts of Canada and the United States last year, 12 of them in the Gulf.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says no whales have been spotted in recent weeks, so the speed restriction is being lifted to help ships navigate safely in winter conditions.

Thirteen speeding tickets with $6,000 fines attached were issued to vessels for exceeding the 10-knots limit imposed on any ship more than 20 metres long; several more cases of reported speeding are under investigation.

One of the 13 ticketed so far was a Canadian Coast Guard vessel, while the others included two cruise ships, one passenger ferry, one oil tanker and seven cargo ships.