Voluntary Speed Reduction Area in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, Canada

Voluntary Speed Reduction Area in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, Canada

Overview

BIMCO has received information from the Government of Canada concerning the recently issued temporary voluntary speed restriction in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The restriction addresses increased risks to the endangered North Atlantic right whales.

The measure has been in place since mid-July to address the situation, with the discovery of 10 dead whales over the last few weeks. The North Atlantic right whale is an endangered species.

There is an unusual high number of right whales currently in the Gulf, away from their more traditional habitats in the Grand Manan Basin (Bay of Fundy) and the Roseway Basin (off southwestern Nova Scotia). This situation increases the risk of ship strikes and supports the need for precautionary actions (when safe and operationally feasible to do so). 

Under the voluntary speed restriction measure, the Canadian Government is asking ships to:

  • reduce speed and proceed with caution in the area (coordinates enclosed below) - with a suggested speed at 10 knots
  • report all sightings of whales to the Government of Canada

    In addition to the above, the Canadian Government also invites ships to:

    • include the slowdown area in the ship passage plan and forward such information to weather routing services, so that the voluntary speed limitation be included in routing advice (as relevant) and
    • where operationally and safe to do so,  keep a sharp look-out for whales; including posting extra crew on the bow to watch, if possible.

    Masters and crew are no doubt already familiar with other speed restriction measures to protect North Atlantic right whales in some areas off the US East Coast. Ships in the area are invited to apply the same diligence and precautionary actions (including speed limitations) when transiting in the voluntary slow down area in Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

    Gulf of St.Lawrence / Due to an increased presence of endangered North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, mariners are requested to proceed with caution in all areas of St. Lawrence between the following co-ordinates:

    47° 10' N 62 00 W
    47° 10' N 65 00 W
    50° 20' N 65 00 W
    50° 20' N 62 00 W.

    Within this area, all ships of 65 feet (19.8m) or longer are requested to reduce speed (a speed of 10 knots is suggested but not obligatory). Report all observations of dead or injured whales to Marine Animal Response at 1-866-567-6277.

    The reporting of live whale sightings using "Whale Alert" (app) is encouraged.


    Unofficial map of the voluntary slowdown area
Jeppe Skovbakke Juhl
in Copenhagen, DK

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