Protecting the North Atlantic right whale: speed restriction measures in the Gulf of St. Lawrence - SSB No.: 11/2020 (Modified July 30, 2020)

RDIMS No .: 15505520
Date (Y-M-D) : 2020-04-29

 
We issue Ship Safety Bulletins for the marine community. Visit our Website at www.tc.gc.ca/ssb-bsn to view existing bulletins and to sign up to receive e-mail notices of new ones.

This bulletin replaces Ship Safety Bulletin No. 11/2019

Purpose

This bulletin describes the speed restriction zones that vessels must follow in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The Government of Canada has put these zones in place to reduce the risk of vessel collisions with North Atlantic right whales (NARW).

Context

Due to changing migration patterns of North Atlantic right whales and their increased presence in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Government of Canada has established seasonal speed restrictions in specific zones. These speed restrictions are defined as “static zones”, “dynamic shipping zones”, “seasonal management areas”, a trial "voluntary speed restriction zone" and a “restricted area”. See the map below for details.

Note: Navigational Warnings with these speed restrictions are considered to be Notices to Shipping, which vessels must follow as per the Interim Order Protecting North Atlantic Right Whales (Eubalaena Glacialis) in and near the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Speed restriction zones are described in monthly Notices to Mariners (NOTMARs), which are published by the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG). The status of these zones are broadcasted through Navigational Warnings (NAVWARNs), which are published by the CCG’s Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) Centres.

Changes to speed restriction zones

Based on consultations with industry and on scientific data, changes to the speed restriction zones will be effective from April 28th, 2020, while the restricted area got implemented on August 2nd, 2020:

  • Portions of the static zones located north and south of dynamic shipping zone E are now changed to seasonal management area 1 (north of dynamic shipping zone E) and seasonal management area 2 (south of dynamic shipping zone E).
  • A trial voluntary speed restriction of 10.0 knots over the ground spanning from Cabot Strait (a line running from Cape North NS to Cape Ray NL) to the eastern edge of dynamic shipping zone E, at the beginning and end of the season.
  • A restricted area in and near Shediac Valley (the effective date and exact location of the area is to be determined and will be based on the observed distribution of the whales. This information will be communicated to mariners via navigational warning and notice to fish harvesters).

Please refer to the latest NAVWARN issued by the CCG-MCTS for all speed restrictions currently in effect.

Speed Restriction Measures for 2020

These restrictions will be in effect from April 28 to November 15, 2020.

Static zones

In the static zones, all vessels above 13 m in length overall (LOA) must proceed at a speed of not more than 10.0 knots over the ground.

Coordinates for the northern static zone:

  • 50° 20’ N 065° 00’ W
  • 49° 13’ N 065° 00’ W
  • 48° 40’ N 064° 13’ W
  • 48° 40’ N 062° 40’ W
  • 48⁰ 03’ N 061⁰ 07.5’ W
  • 47⁰ 58.1’ N 061⁰ 03.5’ W
  • 48° 00’ N 061° 00’ W
  • 49° 04’ N 061° 00’ W
  • 49° 04’ N 062° 00’ W
  • 49° 43’ N 063° 00’ W
  • 50° 20’ N 063° 00’ W

Coordinates for the southern static zone:

  • 48° 40’ N 065° 00’ W
  • 48° 40’ N 062° 40’ W
  • 48° 03’ N 061° 07,5’ W
  • 47° 58.1’ N 061° 03,5’ W
  • 47° 10’ N 062° 30’ W
  • 47° 10’ N 065° 00’ W

Mariners will be notified ahead via a NAVWARN should the speed restriction status change, due to inclement weather.

Within any static zone that is not subject to a speed restriction, mariners may proceed at a safe operational speed. Mariners are however encouraged to take into consideration the potential for their vessel striking North Atlantic right whales when considering a “safe operational speed” during navigation.

Dynamic shipping zones

There are five dynamic shipping zones (DSZ) located in the routeing systems north and south of Anticosti Island: A, B, C, D and E

Coordinates for the dynamic shipping zones:

Zone A

  • 49⁰ 41’ N, 065⁰ 00’ W
  • 49⁰ 20’ N, 065⁰ 00’ W
  • 49⁰ 11’ N, 064⁰ 00’ W
  • 49⁰ 22’ N, 064⁰ 00’ W

Zone B

  • 49⁰ 22’ N, 064⁰ 00’ W
  • 49⁰ 11’ N, 064⁰ 00’ W
  • 48⁰ 48’ N, 063⁰ 00’ W
  • 49⁰ 00’ N, 063⁰ 00’ W

Zone C

  • 49⁰ 00’ N, 063⁰ 00’ W
  • 48⁰ 48’ N, 063⁰ 00’ W
  • 48⁰ 24’ N, 062⁰ 00’ W
  • 48⁰ 35’ N, 062⁰ 00’ W

Zone D

  • 50⁰ 16’ N, 064⁰ 00’ W
  • 50⁰ 00’ N, 064⁰ 00’ W
  • 49⁰ 56’ N, 063⁰ 00’ W
  • 50⁰ 16’ N, 063⁰ 00’ W

Zone E

  • 48⁰ 35’ N 062⁰ 00’ W
  • 48⁰ 24’ N 062⁰ 00’ W
  • 48⁰ 03’ N 061⁰ 07.5’ W
  • 47⁰ 58.1’ N 061⁰ 03.5’ W
  • 48⁰ 00’ N 061⁰ 00’ W
  • 48⁰ 10.5’ N 061⁰ 00’ W

If the Government of Canada does not detect North Atlantic right whales in these zones, vessels may transit through them at a safe operational speed.

When the Government of Canada detects a North Atlantic right whale in a dynamic shipping zone, vessels above 13 m in length overall (LOA):

  • will be notified through a NAVWARN; and
  • must proceed at a speed of not more than 10.0 knots over the ground within that zone.

Speed restrictions in the dynamic shipping zones

The detection of North Atlantic right whales in one or more dynamic shipping zone(s), will trigger a speed restriction in the concerned zone(s). The speed restriction in the dynamic shipping zone(s) will be in effect for 15 days from the date of issuance of the NAVWARN. We may extend a speed restriction past the 15 days if North Atlantic right whales continue to be detected.

When a NAVWARN is issued implementing a speed restriction in one or more dynamic shipping zone(s), vessels above 13 m in length (LOA) must not exceed a speed of 10.0 knots over the ground.

Within any zone that is not subject to a speed restriction, mariners may proceed at a safe operational speed. Mariners are however encouraged to take into consideration the potential for their vessel striking North Atlantic right whales when considering a “safe operational speed” during navigation.

Seasonal management areas

Seasonal management area 1 (SMA-1) and seasonal management area 2 (SMA-2) are speed restriction areas located north and south of dynamic shipping zone E, respectively.

Within seasonal management areas, vessels above 13 m in length (LOA):

  • must restrict their speed so as not to exceed 10.0 knots over the ground from April 28th to June 30th, 2020; and
  • are allowed to proceed at safe operational speed from July 1st to November 15th, 2020, unless a North Atlantic right whale is detected. If a whale is detected, a speed restriction of 10.0 knots over the ground will be triggered for 15 days from the date of issuance of the NAVWARN. The speed restriction may be extended past the 15 days if North Atlantic right whales continue to be detected.

Coordinates for the SMA-1:

  • 49° 04’ N 062° 00’ W
  • 49° 04’ N 061° 00’ W
  • 48° 10.5’ N 061° 00’ W
  • 48° 35’ N 062° 00’ W

Coordinates for the SMA-2:

  • 48° 24’ N 062° 00’ W
  • 48° 03’ N 061° 07.5’ W
  • 47° 58.1’ N 061° 03.5’ W
  • 47° 26.69’ N 062° 00’ W

Restricted area

In the summer months, an important proportion of the total North Atlantic right whale population gathers for feeding and surface activity near the Shediac Valley. Since this makes the North Atlantic right whale more susceptible to vessel collisions, a mandatory restricted area will be put in place in and near Shediac Valley and got implemented on August 2nd, 2020. The effective date and exact location of the area have been determined based on the observed distribution of the North Atlantic right whales.  All necessary details can be found in the Interim Order that came into force on August 1st, 2020. This information is also available to mariners through navigational warnings and notices to fish harvesters.

Vessels above 13 m in length (LOA) will be required to:

  • avoid the area unless they are part of the exceptions listed in the Interim Order;
  • exempt vessels transiting the area must do so at a speed not exceeding 8.0 knots over the ground.

The location and dimension of the restricted area will not be modified.

Coordinates for the restricted area:

  • 48° 18’ N 063° 46’ W

  • 48° 08’ N 063° 21’ W

  • 47° 19’ N 064° 07’30” W

  • 47° 31’ N 064° 34’ W

Trial voluntary speed restriction in Cabot Strait

To coincide with the North Atlantic right whales entering and exiting the Gulf of St. Lawrence, we are putting in place a trial voluntary speed restriction in Cabot Strait from April 28th to June 15th, 2020, and from October 1st to November 15th, 2020.

  • During this period, vessels above 13 m in length (LOA) will be asked to voluntarily reduce their speed so as to not exceed 10.0 knots over the ground.
  • Outside of the restriction period, vessels will be able to proceed at safe operational speeds.

Voluntary speed restriction zone coordinates:

  • 48° 10.5’ N 061° 00’ W
  • 47° 37.2’ N 059° 18.5’ W
  • 47° 02’ N 060° 23.7’ W
  • 47° 58.1’ N 061° 03.5’ W
  • 48° 00’ N 061° 00’ W

Map of the Gulf of St. Lawrence

The following map shows

  • the speed restriction zone, in pink (static zones);
  • the dynamic shipping zones, in green;
  • the seasonal management areas, in dark pink; and
  • the trial voluntary speed restriction zone, in grey; and
  • the focus of the restricted area, noted with a star.
Map showing the two static zones (north and south), the five dynamic shipping zones (A, B, C, D and E), the seasonal management areas, the restricted area, the trial voluntary speed restriction zone and the 20 fathom shallow water protocol line.

Map showing the two static zones (north and south), the five dynamic shipping zones (A, B, C, D and E), the seasonal management areas, the restricted area, the trial voluntary speed restriction zone and the 20 fathom shallow water protocol line.

This map is for visual representation only and is not to be used for navigation or enforcement.

NAVWARN broadcasts

The CCG-MCTS issues and publishes NAVWARNs:

Mariners must ensure they have accurate and up-to-date information about the protection of the North Atlantic right whale, as in all applicable NOTMARs and NAVWARNs.

For the North Atlantic right whale speed restriction, the NAVWARN that is currently in effect will be provided to vessels subject to the Vessel Traffic Services Zone Regulations or the Eastern Canada Vessel Traffic Services Zone Regulations:

Outbound vessels

  • at Calling-in-Point 10 (St-Laurent); or
  • upon a departure downstream from the Quebec pilot station (including the Saguenay River, Chaleur Bay, Miramichi Bay, etc.)

Inbound vessels

  • when a clearance to enter Canadian waters is granted

Vessels in transit

  • at the last reporting point prior to entering the speed restriction area; and/or
  • at 10 nautical miles prior to entering the speed restriction zone

For those vessels not subject to the above-mentioned regulations, vessel operators are required to monitor broadcasts by the Canadian Coast Guard’s Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) network for the most up to date information. For marine radio frequencies and broadcast times, information may be found in the Radio Aids to Marine Navigation publication.

Aids to navigation

The Canadian Coast Guard is currently testing virtual Automatic Identification System (AIS) aids to navigation (AIS AtoN) in specific areas. These aids notify mariners of a dynamic shipping zone subject to a speed restriction, per NOTMAR 819(T)/2016.

Each dynamic shipping zone is delimited by four virtual AIS AtoN, which can be displayed on a ship’s navigation equipment, such as

  • Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS);
  • Electronic Chart System (ECS);
  • RADAR;
  • Minimum Keyboard Display (MKD); and
  • Electronic Nautical Chart (ENC).

The Canadian Coast Guard broadcasts the virtual AIS AtoN only when a speed restriction is in effect in one or more testing zones.

Mariners must select the virtual AIS AtoN symbol to view a message such as “SectA1 Spd Lim 10 kt.” This message refers to a speed restriction in effect for a specific zone.

Note: This system is not the primary way we communicate this information.

Compliance and enforcement

You must comply with the NAVWARNs broadcasted and published by the Canadian Coast Guard  related to any Interim Order made pursuant to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, aimed at regulating the navigation for the purposes of protecting the North Atlantic right whales. 

If you do not comply with instructions in the NAVWARNs or in the Interim Orders, you could face:

  • administrative monetary penalties up to a maximum of  CAN $250,000; and/or
  • penal sanctions under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.

If your vessel appears to have violated the speed restriction, Transport Canada Marine Safety inspectors will review all information provided through AIS and seek an explanation from the master.

No exemptions to the speed restriction will be granted in advance. However, if a deviation from the speed restrictions is necessary for safety reasons, the following information must be entered into the bridge logbook:

  • Reasons for deviation
  • Speed at which vessel is operated
  • Latitude and longitude at time of deviation
  • Time and duration of deviation
  • Master of the vessel shall sign and date the bridge logbook entry

For any deviation, Transport Canada will review and consider reasons such as

  • Navigating to ensure vessel safety;
  • Weather conditions;
  • Force majeure (unforeseeable circumstances); and
  • Responding to emergencies.

Report a North Atlantic right whale sighting

If you see a North Atlantic right whale that is entangled, injured or dead, please report it to your nearest Canadian Coast Guard Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centre, or as follows:

Southern part of the Gulf of St. Lawrence
Marine Animal Response Society
Telephone: 1-866-567-6277

Newfoundland and Labrador
Whale Release and Strandings
Telephone: 1-888-895-3003

For the Québec Sector
Marine Mammal Emergencies
Telephone: 1-877-722-5346

If you see live, free-swimming whales

Please consult WhaleMap for the latest right whale observations:

https://whalemap.ocean.dal.ca/

Keywords

1. North Atlantic right whales
2. 10.0 knots
3. Speed restriction

Questions concerning this Bulletin should be addressed to:

AMSEC
Navigation safety and radiocommunications

Transport Canada
Marine Safety and Security
Tower C, Place de Ville
330 Sparks Street, 10th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N8

Contact us at: Email: marinesafety-securitemaritime@tc.gc.ca or Telephone: 1-855-859-3123 (Toll Free).