Minister Lebouthillier meets with fishing industry to discuss Right whale sighting


May 23, 2024

Ottawa, ON – Following the sighting of a North Atlantic right whale in shallow waters off the northeast coast of New Brunswick last week, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) instituted a 15-day temporary fishing area closure in Lobster Fishing Area (LFA) 23 C. This decision was based on DFO’s sighting data at the time, and in consideration of our international commitments towards marine mammal protection, which are in place to ensure Canada’s world-class seafood products continue to be recognized as sustainable and export markets remain available.

Since the initial sighting, DFO has reviewed various data sources to determine the whale was in slightly deeper waters than previously thought. With this new information, I am pleased to see DFO has adjusted the closure requirements and harvesters can now set their traps up to the 10 fathom shallow water protocol management line for the remainder of the 15-day period.

Additionally, today I had the opportunity to meet with members of the lobster fishing industry in the Gulf region, including leadership from the Maritime Fisherman’s Union. We had a productive discussion about how to address the pressing threat facing the endangered North Atlantic right whales, while accounting for the very real impacts on our lobster harvesters and the communities in which they reside. 

I have asked DFO to convene a meeting of the Technical Advisory Committee on North Atlantic Right Whales which includes representatives of the industry and whale experts to review the existing protocol. It is crucial that we achieve the right balance in protecting these whales and while minimizing the impact on the fishing industry wherever possible.

Finally, I want to acknowledge how difficult the past week has been on harvesters. You are critical partners in our efforts to protect this important species, while carrying the enormous burden of balancing that responsibility and still maintaining your livelihood. I am committed to continuing to work together on the best way to achieve that. 



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