Transport Canada has lifted the speed limit in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, five months after the restriction was put in place to prevent further right whale deaths.
The speed restriction was removed “to ensure ships can maintain manoeuvrability in winter conditions and for the safety of those operating in Canadian waters,” Transport Canada Minister Marc Garneau said in a release Thursday.
Transport Canada also said there have been no sightings of North Atlantic right whales in the area of the slowdown in recent weeks.
13 vessels fined for speed violations
The restriction introduced Aug. 11 limited large vessels travelling in the Gulf to just 10 knots, or 18 km/h.
In total, 17 right whales were found dead in the Atlantic last year. Twelve of them died in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Necropsies on some of the whales revealed four died of blunt force trauma from collisions with ships, and two more appeared to have died from being entangled in fishing gear.
Since September, Transport Canada has fined 13 vessels $6,000 a piece for breaking the speed limit. These vessels included cruise ships, cargo ships, an oil tanker and even a coast guard vessel.
All but two vessels have paid the fine as of Friday. The remaining two vessels still have time to appeal.