‘We have to make some changes’: New Brunswick MP calls for study on Canada’s endangered whales
|globalnews.ca 22 Apr 2018 at 10:20|
A New Brunswick member of Parliament is calling for a federal study to take a closer look at the state of Canada’s endangered whales.
Karen Ludwig, the Liberal member for New Brunswick Southwest, has tabled a private member’s bill that is expected to be debated in the House of Commons on Monday.
Ludwig said she felt compelled to do something after 18 North Atlantic right whales were killed in Canadian and U.S. waters last year.
“Living on the Bay of Fundy, my interests in the protection and recovery of whales was initially based on my experience locally, and what they mean to us from an ecological, cultural and economic standpoint,” Ludwig said in an interview.
As well, she said she was spurred to action after whale rescuer Joseph Howlett was killed by a right whale after he cut it free from fishing gear last July.
Howlett was from her riding.
She said it was a tragedy to lose someone who had dedicated his life to rescuing entangled whales.
“I would like to dedicate my motion to Joseph Howlett and the work that he did through the whale rescue team,” Ludwig said.
The proposed study, which would also look at beluga and killer whales, has the support of Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc and Transport Minister Marc Garneau, Ludwig said.
“It’s not just about whales,” she said. “It’s about human activity in the oceans. We have to make some changes here before the point of no return.”
Whale populations are on the decline. There’s just 450 North Atlantic right whales, 900 belugas and 76 southern resident killer whales in the wild.
Ludwig said she originally suggested a study by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans last fall, but that was before the federal government enacted several measures aimed at protecting right whales.
That work has included reducing speed limits in the Gulf of St. Lawerence, starting the crab season earlier and limiting the amount of fishing gear on the water.