Statement - Closure to Snow Crab Fishery to Protect North Atlantic Right Whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

OTTAWA, July 20, 2017 /CNW/ - Today, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) announced the closure of Snow Crab Fishing Area 12 in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. This decision was made in an effort to protect North Atlantic Right whales from risks posed by snow crab fishing gear in the area.

As of today, 98% of the total allowable catch for snow crab in Area 12 has already been harvested. We understand the impact this could have on fishers. However, the recent whale mortalities in the area are unprecedented and this closure is an important measure to address the situation.

On July 19, 2017, an eighth North Atlantic Right whale was found dead in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The Canadian Coast Guard is currently towing the whale to shore and a necropsy will take place tomorrow with the help of many partners, to determine the cause of death. Another Right whale was found entangled in fishing gear in the same area later that day.

While the entanglement of a whale is an extremely difficult and distressing situation, our first priority is the safety of those involved in marine mammal response. In light of last week's tragic incident, DFO has paused Right whale disentanglements while we review our policies and practices regarding responses to Right whale entanglements.

We are committed to a safe fishery and the protection, conservation and recovery of Right whales.

Internet: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca

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SOURCE Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) Canada

For further information: Media Relations, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Gulf Region, 506-851-7045, Steve.hachey@dfo-mpo.gc.ca; Laura Gareau, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, 613-992-3474, Laura.Gareau@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

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http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca

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