Protecting the North Atlantic right whale: New speed restriction measures in the Gulf of St. Lawrence - SSB No.: 11/2019

RDIMS No.: 15505520
Date (Y-M-D) : 2019-07-08

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We issue Ship Safety Bulletins for the marine community. Visit our Website at www.tc.gc.ca/ssb-bsn to view existing bulletins and to sign up to receive e-mail notices of new ones.

This bulletin replaces Ship Safety Bulletin No. 07/2019

Purpose

This bulletin describes new seasonal speed restriction zones that vessels must follow in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The Government of Canada has put these zones in place to lessen the risk of fatal strikes to North Atlantic right whales by transiting vessels.

Context

Due to changing migration of North Atlantic right whales and their increased presence in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Government of Canada has established seasonal speed restrictions in specific zones. These restrictions combine “static zones” and “dynamic speed” sectors. See the map below for details.

Note: Navigational Warnings with these speed restrictions are considered to be Notices to Shipping, which vessels must follow under section 7 of the Collision Regulations.

Speed restrictions are described in monthly Notices to Mariners (NOTMARs). They are also broadcasted through Navigational Warnings (NAVWARNs).

NOTMARs provide marine information. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, through the Canadian Coast Guard, publishes these notices monthly and annually.

NAVWARNs provide urgent information for vessels about marine facilities, services, procedures or navigational hazards. They are published by the Canadian Coast Guard.

Changes to speed restriction zones

In response to consultations with industry, and based on scientific data, we have made two changes to the restriction zone this year, which took effect on April 28, 2019:

  • We removed the southeast corner of the speed restriction zone, around the Magdalen Islands.
  • To help reduce impacts on the marine shipping industry, we are allowing vessels, in the absence of North Atlantic right whale sightings, to travel at safe speeds in a larger area north of Anticosti Island, extending to the mainland.

In response to the recent deaths in June 2019 of 6 NARW, additional changes have been made to the restriction zone, which took effect on July 9, 2019:

  • As the speed restriction in the static zone may be lifted when there are adverse weather conditions forecast in the area, the static zone has been divided in two sections in order to diminish the impact of the lifting of the mandatory speed restriction. This modification will be in effect for the rest of the year.
  • Dynamic sector E has been added and the static zones have been extended to cover the area around new dynamic sector E.
  • All speed restrictions apply to vessels above 13 m.

Please refer to the latest NAVWARN issued by the Canadian Coast Guard for all speed restrictions currently in force.

Static zones

In the static zones, all vessels above 13 m in length overall (LOA) must proceed at a speed of not more than 10.0 knots over the ground.

NEW coordinates for the northern static zone

  • 50° 20’ N 065° 00’ W
  • 49° 13’ N 065° 00’ W
  • 48° 40’ N 064° 13’ W
  • 48° 40’ N 062° 40’ W
  • 48° 00’ N 061° 00’ W
  • 49° 04’ N 061° 00’ W
  • 49° 04’ N 062° 00’ W
  • 49° 43’ N 063° 00’ W
  • 50° 20’ N 063° 00’ W

NEW coordinates for the southern static zone:

  • 48° 40’ N 065° 00’ W
  • 48° 40’ N 062° 40’ W
  • 48° 00’ N 061° 00’ W
  • 47° 10’ N 062° 30’ W
  • 47° 10’ N 065° 00’ W

Mariners will be notified ahead via a NAVWARN on which of these sections are not subject to a speed restriction, due to inclement weather.

Within any static zone that is not subject to a speed restriction, mariners may proceed at a safe operational speed. However, we recommend that mariners proceed with extreme caution while transiting in these sections and avoid excessive speed in order to minimize potential strikes with NARWs.

Dynamic sectors

The static zone has 5 “dynamic sectors”: A, B, C, D and E

When the Government of Canada determines that North Atlantic right whales do not appear to be in these sectors, vessels may transit through them at a safe operational speed.

When we determine that North Atlantic right whales are present in a dynamic sector, vessels above 13 m in length overall (LOA)

  • will be notified through a NAVWARN; and
  • must proceed at a speed of not more than 10.0 knots over the ground within that sector.

Note: Dynamic sector D has changed since we issued the last Ship Safety Bulletin on this subject (06/2018) and Dynamic sector E is a new sector as of July 2019.

Dynamic sector coordinates:

Sector A

  • 49° 41’ N, 065° 00’ W
  • 49° 20’ N, 065° 00’ W
  • 49° 11’ N, 064° 00’ W
  • 49° 22’ N, 064° 00’ W

Sector B

  • 49° 22’ N, 064° 00’ W
  • 49° 11’ N, 064° 00’ W
  • 48° 48’ N, 063° 00’ W
  • 49° 00’ N, 063° 00’ W

Sector C

  • 49° 00’ N, 063° 00’ W
  • 48° 48’ N, 063° 00’ W
  • 48° 24’ N, 062° 00’ W
  • 48° 35’ N, 062° 00’ W

Sector D

  • 50° 16’ N, 064° 00’ W
  • 50° 00’ N, 064° 00’ W
  • 49° 56’ N, 063° 00’ W
  • 50° 16’ N, 063° 00’ W

Sector E

  • 48° 35’ N, 062° 00’ W
  • 48° 24’ N, 062° 00’ W
  • 48° 10.5’ N, 061° 00’ W
  • 48° 00’ N, 061° 00’ W

Speed restrictions in the dynamic sectors

These speed restrictions will be in effect for 15 days from the date we issue them. We may extend a restriction past the 15 days if North Atlantic right whales continue to be present. Speed restriction zones and sectors will be announced through NAVWARNs.

These restrictions will be in effect from April 28 to November 15, 2019. These dates may change, depending on when whales are present.

During this period, vessels above 13 m in length (LOA) must reduce their speed so as not to exceed 10.0 knots over the ground in the presence of North Atlantic right whales.

Outside the restriction period, once the mandatory speed restriction is lifted, we ask vessels to reduce their speed voluntarily so as not to exceed 10.0 knots over the ground

  • in the presence of North Atlantic right whales; and
  • only if maritime conditions permit safe operation of their vessel at that speed.

Map of the Gulf of St. Lawrence

The following map shows

  • the speed restriction zone, in red (static zones); and
  • the dynamic shipping sectors, in green.
Map showing the static restriction area and the four dynamic sectors (A, B, C, D and E).

NAVWARN broadcasts

The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) sends out NAVWARNs:

Mariners must ensure they have accurate and up-to-date information about the protection of the North Atlantic right whale, as in all applicable NOTMARs and NAVWARNs.

For the North Atlantic right whale speed restriction, we will provide the NAVWARN in effect to vessels subject to the Vessel Traffic Services Zone Regulations or the Eastern Canada Vessel Traffic Services Zone Regulations:

Outbound vessels

  • at Calling-in-Point (CIP) 10; or
  • upon a departure downstream from the Quebec pilot station (including the Saguenay River, Chaleur Bay, Miramichi Bay, etc.)

Inbound vessels

  • when a clearance to enter Canadian waters is granted

Vessels in transit

  • at the last reporting point prior to entering the speed restriction area; and/or
  • at 10 NM prior to entering the speed restriction zone

For those vessels not subject to the above-mentioned regulations, vessel operators are required to monitor broadcasts by the Canadian Coast Guard’s Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) network for the most up to date information. For marine radio frequencies and broadcast times, information may be found in the Radio Aids to Marine Navigation publication.

Aids to navigation

The Canadian Coast Guard now uses virtual Automatic Identification System (AIS) aids to navigation (AIS AtoN). These aids will notify mariners of a dynamic sector subject to a speed restriction, per NOTMAR 819(T)/2016.

Each dynamic sector will be delimited by four virtual AIS AtoN, which can be displayed on a ship’s navigation equipment, such as

  • Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS);
  • Electronic Chart System (ECS);
  • RADAR;
  • Minimum Keyboard Display (MKD); and
  • Electronic Nautical Chart (ENC).

The Canadian Coast Guard will broadcast the virtual AIS AtoN only when a speed restriction is in effect in one or more sectors.

Mariners must select the virtual AIS AtoN symbol to view a message such as “SectA1 Spd Lim 10 kt.” This message refers to a speed restriction in effect for a specific sector.

Note: This system is not the primary way we communicate this information.

Compliance and enforcement

NAVWARNs are enforced in the same way as Notices to Shipping. You must comply with these warnings under section 7 of the Collision Regulations.

If you do not comply with any instructions in the NAVWARNs, you could face

  • administrative monetary penalties ranging from CAN $6,000 to CAN $25,000; and/or
  • penal sanctions under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.

If your vessel appears to have violated the speed restriction, Transport Canada Marine Safety inspectors will review all information provided through AIS and seek information from the master.

We will not grant exemptions to the speed restriction in advance. However, Transport Canada will review and consider reasons such as

  • navigating to ensure vessel safety;
  • weather conditions;
  • force majeure (unforeseeable circumstances); and
  • responding to emergencies.

Report a North Atlantic right whale sighting

If you see a North Atlantic right whale that is entangled, dead or injured, please report it to your nearest Canadian Coast Guard Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centre, or as follows:

Southern part of the Gulf of St. Lawrence
Marine Animal Response Society
Telephone: 1-866-567-6277

Newfoundland and Labrador
Whale Release and Strandings
Telephone: 1-888-895-3003

For the Québec Sector
Marine Mammal Emergencies
Telephone: 1-877-722-5346

If you see live, free-swimming whales

Please consult WhaleMap for the latest right whale observations:
https://whalemap.ocean.dal.ca/

Keywords

1. North Atlantic right whales
2. 10.0 knots
3. speed restriction

Questions concerning this Bulletin should be addressed to:

AMSE
Naim Nazha
613-991-3131

Transport Canada
Marine Safety and Security
Tower C, Place de Ville
330 Sparks Street, 10th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N8

Contact us at: Email: marinesafety-securitemaritime@tc.gc.ca or Telephone: 1-855-859-3123 (Toll Free).

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