ontario news watch

Right whale protection: Conservation group calls for mandatory speed limits for ships

HALIFAX — An ocean conservation group trying to protect endangered North Atlantic right whales says it wants mandatory speed limits in the Cabot Strait.

Oceana Canada says new satellite data indicates that vessels transiting the strait between Cape Breton and Newfoundland are routinely ignoring voluntary speed limits.

The group released figures today showing that for the second year in a row, a majority of vessels sailing through the strait exceeded the 10-knot voluntary limit during the first week it was in effect. 

But the federal Transport Department and the Shipping Federation of Canada are challenging the numbers, saying they don’t accurately reflect what is happening on the water. 

The federal department says its satellite data shows that during the same week, 46.5 per cent of vessels transiting the strait had exceeded the speed limit, which is well below the 64 per cent cited by Oceana.

Still, Oceana’s campaign director, Kim Elmslie, says having just over 50 per cent of ships respecting the limit is nothing to brag about.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2021.

The Canadian Press