Namely, Canada's Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Dominic LeBlanc, announced amendments to the Marine Mammal Regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part II.

The distance requirement will be greater for certain marine mammals, including killer whales in B.C. and the St. Lawrence Estuary Beluga in Quebec, because of the threats they already face or because of local geography. These variations include:

  • 200 metres for all killer whale populations in B.C. and the Pacific Ocean;
  • 400 metres for threatened or endangered species of whales, dolphins and porpoises in the St. Lawrence estuary and the Saguenay River;
  • 200 metres for all whales, dolphins and porpoises in certain parts of the St. Lawrence estuary; and
  • 50 metres in parts of the Churchill Estuary (which includes the Churchill River) and parts of the Seal River

Marine mammals face a complex mix of threats—such as the availability of prey, increased noise levels from passing ships, vessel strikes, gear entanglement and pollution in the water. These threats are particularly challenging for endangered whale populations – notably the Southern Resident killer whale, the North Atlantic right whale and the St. Lawrence Estuary beluga.

Before these changes, voluntary guidelines existed but they were not enforceable. These amendments make it possible for anyone in contravention of the Regulations to be charged with an offence under the Fisheries Act.

These stronger rules will help to ensure our whales and marine mammals can still be enjoyed, but at a safe distance. Finalizing these regulations is just another concrete measure that our government is taking to make sure that our marine life is protected for future generations,

...said Mr. LeBlanc.