Ship-strike reduction rules: Are they enough to allow the North Atlantic Right Whale population in the Gulf of St.Lawrence to recover?

J. Rae \ Oceans First, Issue 5, 2018, pgs. 38-44. Download PDF


Between June and October 2017, an extreme North Atlantic Right Whale (NARW) mortality event occurred in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (GSL). There are only approximately 458 NARWs remaining, and the death of twelve individuals within a five-month period is detrimental to the survival of the population. Following necropsies conducted on NARWs found in the GSL, vessel collisions and fishing entanglements were determined to be the primary causes of death. Removing the risk of fatal collisions by ensuring compliance to ship-strike reduction rules is essential. Strict prevention measures involving entanglements in fishing gear are also crucial to right whale recovery. Lastly, to address the previously mentioned issues and implement the necessary conservation strategies, greater research on NARW habitat is needed to understand how and why right whales are appearing in unprecedented numbers in the GSL. Overall, the paper will aim to support the hypothesis that in order to mitigate risks of human-caused mortality and allow the NARW population to recover, there must be stricter fishing regulations and more habitat research in addition to ship-strike reduction rules in the GSL.