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Two additional North Atlantic right whales found in Gulf of St. Lawrence

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Fisheries and Oceans Canada confirmed reports on Tuesday of two additional dead North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The whales were located near the Acadian Peninsula, New Brunswick and west of the Magdalen Islands, Quebec. These are the third and fourth confirmed dead North Atlantic right whales reported in Canadian waters this year.

DFO has worked closely with marine mammal response partners to conduct two necropsies to determine the cause of death of right whales found earlier this month in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

On June 7th, veterinarians from the University of Prince Edward Island and the University of Montreal conducted a necropsy in coordination with DFO and the Marine Animal Response Society in Miscou, NB. These experts reported that there was no evidence of recent fishing gear entanglement or recent vessel strike in their preliminary assessment. Further testing is ongoing to identify other potential causes of death.

A second necropsy is currently being conducted by the veterinarian team from the University of Prince Edward Island in Petit Étang, NS, of the dead whale reported on June 20th. It is too early to report on preliminary findings.

The final detailed results of these necropsies will be available in the coming months.

Necropsies take time and are highly demanding on everyone involved. The vital information and findings from these necropsies on right whales is key to better understanding the threats they face, as well as how to better protect them and support their recovery.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada continues to take all necessary actions to protect the endangered North Atlantic right whale from further harm. This is a shared responsibility. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has been working closely with partners in Canada and the United States, coastal communities and industry partners to detect right whales and to implement robust management measures that mitigate risks to the species. This includes ongoing fishery closures in Atlantic Canada and Quebec for snow crab and lobster fisheries (and all other non-tended fixed gear fisheries) based on confirmed right whale sightings since April 28, 2019.

The Government of Canada’s measures to protect the whales for 2019 are available online here: https://www.canada.ca/en/fisheries-oceans/news/2019/02/government-of-canada-unveils-its-2019-plan-for-protecting-north-atlantic-right-whales.html