Right whale sightings prompt temporary closing of East Coast fishing areas

East Coast fishermen were scrambling to move their traps this weekend after the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) announced plans to temporarily close a section of the Gulf of St. Lawrence on Tuesday, to protect two endangered right whales spotted swimming in the waters during aircraft surveillance. The decision is the latest attempt to avoid a repeat of last year, when 12 whales died in Canadian waters, either from being struck by boats or tangled in fishing ropes that stretch from the surface to the traps below.

The department has already permanently closed a section of the gulf where whale populations are known to congregate, but that is lucrative for snow crab fishermen. This has raised concerns that if temporary closings also expand, fishermen may not be able to fill their quotas, or will be forced to cluster in certain areas and risk overfishing, said Carl Allen, the president of the Maritime Fishermen’s Union.

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