Environment Media release

Media release: Sierra Club and allies respond to new protection measures for Right Whales in Canada

Sierra Club Canada Foundation is alarmed that not enough is being done to prevent the extinction of North Atlantic right whales in Canada’s waters. Sierra Club and allies have signed a joint letter in response to new right whale protection measures announced by the Canadian government.

“We are calling for a slow down of vessels in the entire Gulf of St. Lawrence,” states Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Program Director with Sierra Club Canada Foundation. “Aside from preventing immediate causes of these deaths, we have got to tackle chronic threats like seismic blasting and also look at the entire Gulf ecosystem if we want a future that includes right whales.”

Since June, six whales have died in the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Canada’s East Coast, three from collisions with vessels. The cause of the remaining deaths have not yet been identified. Three whales are currently entangled in fishing gear in the Gulf.

DFO released a much-anticipated report on right whale threats on Friday, July 6. Canada’s Transport Minister Marc Garneau and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Jonathan Wilkinson announced new protection measures on July 8, including a one-week commitment for increased aerial surveys, increasing the number of ships covered by the slow down rules to include vessels 13 metres or larger, and larger slow down zones for ships.

“We have got to switch from being reactive to proactive to save this species. We acknowledge the work being done to triage this crisis, but we need information to be shared and applied more quickly and in a precautionary fashion,” adds Fitzgerald.


For more information:

Gretchen Fitzgerald

National Programs Director

Sierra Club Canada Foundation

email: gretchenf@sierraclub.ca

The joint statement is available here.


Review of North Atlantic right whale occurrence and risk of entanglements in fishing gear and vessel strikes in Canadian waters, DFO Science Advisory Report, 2019/028:

New Protection Measures Announcement, July 8:



  1. It’s so pathetic to consider Canada will be responsible for the extinction of the North Atlantic Right Whale, despite what the media tries to spin to us that the Canadian government is doing all it can to save them.

  2. By compromising the ability of whales, dolphins, and other marine life to feed, reproduce, and protect themselves, ocean noise is undermining the natural resiliency species need to cope with these other threats. It is the seismic sounding of oil and gas companies that is negating the navigation skills of whales and must be banned.

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