Chamber of Marine Commerce releases statement on lifting speed restrictions in Gulf of St. Lawrence

The Chamber of Marine Commerce is issuing the following statement in response to a recent announcement by Transport Canada that the government is lifting speed restrictions on commercial ships operating in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Bruce Burrows, President of the Chamber of Marine Commerce, said: “We’re pleased to see the speed restrictions lifted as our ship operator members continue winter deliveries of vital products to Canadian companies and northern communities. We are working in tandem with the scientific community and government officials over the winter to develop solutions based on strong science that both protect North Atlantic Right Whales and minimize economic impacts for all Canadians.”

Since summer, Chamber of Marine Commerce ship operator members have been following speed restrictions and closely working with the government to minimize the risk of collisions with North Atlantic Right Whales. Ship operators are also part of the data collection process, regularly reporting whale sightings to government officials as part of efforts to protect this endangered species.

Burrows explained: “From our perspective, more data is needed on where the whales are and how they move around to help determine if a specific shipping lane could be established that would avoid contact with whales and allow ships to move without speed restrictions. The shipping industry is collaborating with government and the scientific community to explore what technology could be used to address this issue.”

At an October 4 meeting, an informal committee was formed to collaborate with industry, government, and academic scientists on developing measures to protect the North Atlantic Right Whales from ship related impacts, namely collisions. CMC is working with les Armateurs du Saint Laurent, Croisières du St Laurent, Cruise Lines International Association and the Shipping Federation of Canada.

From this committee, a small working group is developing collaborative arrangements and a list of feasible technical options to protect whales in the 2018 season. This work is being done over the early part of the winter to enable the government to develop a collaborative approach to protect the right whales if they return to the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the spring.

Different potential solutions being explored include:
• How to provide real-time data to ships to slow down and avoid whales in proximity.
• How to improve data collection to determine whale patterns to re-route shipping lanes to reduce probability of coming into contact with whales.

Follow the Chamber of Marine Commerce at and @MarineDelivers.

Maritime Editorial