Stewardship Measures

Eight centuries of intensive commercial whaling reduced the population of North Atlantic right whales to very low numbers. Although protected internationally since 1935, right whales have failed to show significant population recovery because of mortality related to human activities - only about 400 remain. In order to improve the long-term chances of survival of the species, the right whale population needs to be larger. This can only be accomplished by reducing the number of mortalities and increasing the reproductive rate. Since right whale reproduction is not well understood and can hardly be changed, policy makers have focused on reducing human-induced mortalities from vessel strikes and entanglements in fishing gear.

Right whales are a trans-boundary species and any effort to protect them must be undertaken throughout their range. Differences in legal systems between countries and jurisdictional issues can be an obstacle to adopting various stewardship and conservation measures but much can be learned from the efforts of others. We present here a summary of stewardship and management efforts by Canadians to find solutions designed to bring the right whale back from the brink of extinction. Parallel efforts implemented thus far in the United States to reduce the impact of human activities will also be identified. This section highlights Canadian measures including the designation of the Grand Manan Basin and Roseway Basin Conservation Areas, the development of the recovery plan, the relocation of the Bay of Fundy Traffic Separation Scheme and the Roseway Basin Area To Be Avoided.

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