Canada Needs to Act Now to Save the North Atlantic Right Whale from Extinction

Canada Needs to Act Now to Save the North Atlantic Right Whale from Extinction

Kjipuktuk / Halifax, NS, Oct. 29, 2020 - Science released this week by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows North Atlantic right whale numbers are even lower than previously thought, and that we are not doing enough to stop right whales from going extinct, according to Sierra Club Canada Foundation. Research released by NOAA showed there are 356 North Atlantic right whales left, down from estimates of approximately 400 of these whales left on the planet.

"Canada's so-called action plan on right whales is clearly not enough. The plan needs to be updated and implemented immediately to incorporate this devastating new science," according to Sierra Club Canada Foundation National Programs Director Gretchen Fitzgerald. "Canada must commit to no human-caused right whales deaths and achieving short-term recovery goalposts, such as protecting the 94 remaining right whale mothers. This would mean mandatory speed limits for vessels, limits to ocean noise across the right whales’ range, and clear targets to get to ropeless gear. Otherwise, science released this week shows these magnificent whales will become extinct."

Seismic blasting to find oil and gas deposits remains an unaddressed stressor to right whales, a glaring omission in Canada's ocean and endangered species management that needs to be fixed, according to Sierra Club Canada Foundation  The constant barrage of noise for weeks or months is a stressor to right whales, who use sound to navigate their environment.

"This summer, seismic blasting off Newfoundland and Labrador was so loud and pervasive that DFO scientists reported they could not hear right whales calling," according to Gretchen Fitzgerald, National Programs Director of Sierra Club Canada Foundation. "It is unconscionable that Canada is blasting these whales to extinction to find oil we should not burn - all the while claiming they are taking all measures to protect this critically endangered species."

More than 34,000 Canadians have signed Sierra Club's petition calling for Canada's Environment and Climate Change Minister Wilkinson, Fisheries and Oceans Minister Jordan, and Transport Minister Garneau to improve Canada's draft Right Whale Action Plan, released this earlier summer.  


Gretchen Fitzgerald
National Programs Director
tel: 902.444.7096