Cruise the Saint Lawrence (CSL) wishes to underscore that the association understands and supports the measure recently introduced which requires ships operating in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence to reduce their speed in an effort to protect North Atlantic right whales.
This measure, rendered necessary to stem the number of right whale fatalities, is set to impact considerably international cruise industry results across the greater Canada New England region this year. To date, 16 cancellations have been confirmed for three Saint Lawrence ports of call, the one most seriously affected being Gaspe.
In preparation for the upcoming season, Cruise the Saint Lawrence would like to see the measure imposed by Transport Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada subjected to in-depth analysis at the close of the current season to be poised to implement, within a reasonable timeframe, an intervention strategy for 2018.
“Most unfortunately, many cruise lines have been obligated to alter their itineraries to honour their scheduled date of arrival at final destination. They are the first to regret being forced to cut short or delete altogether certain calls and would appreciate more detailed information to be able to organize their itineraries in the best interests of guests and ports of call in the years ahead,” explains Tony Boemi, President of Cruise the Saint Lawrence.
CSL is therefore taking an active part in discussions currently engaged with government authorities and industry partners to find solutions intended to reconcile tourism industry economic interests with species-specific protection measures.
“The presence of North Atlantic right whales is an indication of the rich habitat provided by the waters of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and it is a privilege for tourism industry players such as ourselves to share these waters with them. We believe that the cruise industry can prosper and serve as a model of conservation if all players are consulted and involved,” insists Boemi.
A case in point is Alaska where a simple but effective conservation measure has been introduced. This measure involves posting observers on the prow to spot marine mammals and modify, as required, the speed or course of a ship. In Quebec, the Marine Mammal Observation Network (ROMM), in cooperation with the Green Alliance, could play a key role in drawing up solutions together with marine industry players. A similar whale observation training program intended for the crew of merchant and passengers ships is already in place on the Saint Lawrence.