Government lifts speed restrictions after spotting no whales in shipping lanes

OTTAWA — Transport Canada says it’s lifting speed restrictions for cargo ships in the Gulf of St. Lawrence after recent surveillance failed to detect North Atlantic right whales in shipping lanes.

The agency says in a statement released Friday evening that the government’s aerial surveillance team monitored shipping lanes closely over the past month.

It says its National Aerial Surveillance Program spent 240 flight hours in 44 missions scouring the waters.

They say whale surveillance will continue and that speed restrictions will resume if right whales are found in shipping lanes.

The interim slowdown was first implemented in April and expanded in area in June and July.

Transport Canada says during the slowdown period that vessels started using routes other than shipping lanes, including zones where right whales are known to gather.

“This has resulted in more marine traffic coming closer to known whale locations,” the statement says.

“In order to encourage vessel traffic in areas where no North Atlantic right whales have been spotted, vessels will once again be able to maximize efficient routes to transit through the Gulf.”

They say they’re prepared to adjust measures if necessary.

There are about 400 right whales left on the planet and eight deaths reported in Canadian waters since early June.

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