Protection of the North Atlantic Right Whale – Speed Restriction Measures in the Gulf of St. Lawrence - SSB No.: 06/2018

Bulletin No.: 06/2018
RDIMS No .: 14002353
Date (Y-M-D) : 2018-05-15

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

This Bulletin has been replaced by Bulletin No. 07/2019


This bulletin describes the seasonal speed restriction zone that vessels must follow. Speed restriction zones in the western Gulf of St. Lawrence have been established to lessen the risk of fatal strikes to North Atlantic right whales by transiting vessels.


Due to the changing migratory habits of the North Atlantic right whale and their increased presence in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Government of Canada has put in place seasonal speed restrictions in a specified zone.

(See map below)

We also describe these speed reductions in the monthly Notice to Mariners (NOTMAR) and Notice to Shipping (NOTSHIP).


  • provides marine information
  • is published monthly and annually by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, through the Canadian Coast Guard


  • provides information for vessels about new or changes to a marine facility, service, procedure or navigational hazard
  • is published by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, through the Canadian Coast Guard

Description of Measures

A large speed restriction zone (static zone) has been established.

Static zone coordinates

  • 47° 10’ N 062° 00’ W
  • 47° 10’ N 065° 00’ W
  • 50° 20’ N 065° 00’ W
  • 50° 20’ N 063° 00’ W
  • 49º 43’ N 063º 00’ W
  • 49º 04’ N 062º 00’ W

Within the static zone, all vessels 20m or more in length are instructed to proceed at a speed not exceeding 10.0 knots over the ground.

Description of the dynamic sector

Within the static zone, there are four dynamic sectors: A, B, C and D. Within these sectors, vessels may proceed at a safe operational speed when the Government of Canada has determined that whales do not appear to be present. When right whale presence has been determined inside a dynamic sector, vessels 20m or more in length

  • will be notified through a NOTSHIP; and
  • are required to proceed at a speed not exceeding 10.0 knots over the ground within that sector.

Dynamic sector coordinates

Sector A

  • 49° 41’ N, 065° 00’ W
  • 49° 20’ N, 065° 00’ W
  • 49° 11’ N, 064° 00’ W
  • 49° 22’ N, 064° 00’ W

Sector B

  • 49° 22’ N, 064° 00’ W
  • 49° 11’ N, 064° 00’ W
  • 48° 48’ N, 063° 00’ W
  • 49° 00’ N, 063° 00’ W

Sector C

  • 49° 00’ N, 063° 00’ W
  • 48° 48’ N, 063° 00’ W
  • 48° 24’ N, 062° 00’ W
  • 48° 35’ N, 062° 00’ W

Sector D

  • 50° 06’ N, 064° 00’ W
  • 50° 00’ N, 064° 00’ W
  • 49° 56’ N, 063° 00’ W
  • 50° 03’ N, 063° 00’ W

Speed restrictions in the dynamic sector

Speed restrictions within the dynamic sectors will be in effect for 15 days, from the date of issuance, and can be extended in the event of continued whale presence. The establishment of speed restric tion zones and sectors will be announced through NOTSHIPs.

These restrictions are in effect from April 28 to November 15, 2018. These dates are subject to change dependent on right whale presence. Once the mandatory speed restriction has been lifted, vessels are asked to voluntarily reduce their speed to not exceed 10.0 knots over ground:

  • in the presence of North Atlantic Right whales
  • only if maritime conditions permit safe operation of their vessel at that speed.

Right whale presence

At all times, vessels should reduce speed to 10.0 knots over the ground in the presence of right whales.

Map of the Gulf of St. Lawrence

The following map of the Gulf of St. Lawrence shows:

  • the speed reduction zone, in orange
  • the dynamic shipping sectors, in green
  • the shipping lane, represented by the dark lines in the water

NOTSHIP broadcasts

The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) continues to promulgate valid NOTSHIPs

Mariners shall ensure that they have correct and up-to-date information concerning the protection of the North Atlantic Right Whale as contained in all applicable NOTMARs and NOTSHIPs.

For the purposes of the North Atlantic Right Whale speed reduction, the intention is to provide the NOTSHIP in effect for:

Outbound vessels

  • at the Québec Pilot station; or
  • upon a departure downstream from the Québec 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 reduction area; and/or
  • at 10NM prior to entering the speed reduction zone.

Aids to Navigation

The Canadian Coast Guard is testing the use of virtual AIS aids to navigation (AIS AtoN). This will notify mariners of a dynamic sector subject to a speed reduction (per NOTMAR 819(T)/2016).

Each dynamic sector will be delimited by four virtual AIS AtoN, which can be displayed on a ship’s navigation equipment, such as:

  • ECS
  • minimum keyboard display
  • electronic nautical charts

The virtual AIS AtoN will be broadcasted only when speed reduction is in effect in one or more sectors.

The mariner must select the virtual AIS AtoN symbol to view a message such as:
SectA1 Spd Lim 10 kt

This message refers to a speed reduction in effect for a specific sector. Because the Canadian Coast Guard is still testing this system, it is not the primary means of communicating with you.

Compliance and Enforcement

Failure to comply with mandatory speed reductions could lead to enforcement action and subject to fines ranging from C$6,000 to C$25,000.

If your vessel appear to have violated the speed reduction, Transport Canada marine safety inspectors will review all information provided through AIS and seek information from the master.

Exemptions to the speed reductions will not be granted in advance. But we will review and consider reasons such as:

  • navigating to ensure vessel safety
  • weather conditions
  • force majeure (unforeseeable circumstances)
  • responding to emergencies

Reporting of whale sightings

If you see a right whale that is entangled, dead, or injured, 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, call 1-866-567-6277

Newfoundland and Labrador
Whale Release and Strandings, call 1-709-895-3003

For the Québec sector
Marine Mammal emergencies, call 1-877-722-5346

If you see live, free-swimming whales


  1. North Atlantic Right Whale
  2. 10.0 Knots
  3. Speed Restriction

Questions concerning this Bulletin should be addressed to:

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

Contact us at: or 1-855-859-3123 (Toll Free).