First sighting of right whales in Canadian waters triggers partial fishing closure

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HALIFAX — The federal Fisheries Department says it has spotted endangered North Atlantic right whales in Canadian waters for the first time this year.

The department says two whales were seen Sunday by a surveillance aircraft in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, northeast of the Îles-de-la-Madeleine.

It says fishing in the area where the whales were spotted will be closed for 15 days started Thursday at 5 p.m., and a 15-day vessel slowdown will also be in effect.

The department says it is giving fishers 72 hours notice before the closure due to the weather forecast.

There are an estimated 340 North Atlantic right whales remaining, and so far this year two deaths have been reported in U.S. waters — a 20-year-old male that was hit by a ship and a calf that showed no signs of vessel collision or entanglement in fishing gear.

Scientists report that 12 right whale calves have been born this year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 8, 2023.

The Canadian Press