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On 9 July 2019, Canada extended the speed restriction zones in the Gulf of St. Lawrence further east and the 10 knot speed limit now applies to vessels more than 13 m in overall length.

We refer to our alert “It is once again time to slow down for whales in Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada” of 1 July 2019.

As of 9 July 2019, all speed restrictions in Gulf of St. Lawrence apply to vessels of 13 m or more in overall length, whilst they previously applied only to vessels 20 m or longer. In addition, the following changes have been made to the zones in which the speed restrictions apply:

  • The static speed restriction zone has been expanded further east, beyond the Magdalen Island and closer to the Cabot Strait. In the static zone, shown in pink colour in the map, vessels more than 13 m in overall length must travel at 10 knot or less from 28 April to 15 September 2019.
  • For safety reasons, the static zone has also been divided into a northern and southern zone as this will allow more flexibility during adverse weather conditions. In situations where the safe operation of a vessel may be impacted by weather and sea conditions, speed limits can be temporarily lifted within a smaller geographic area.   
  • A new dynamic speed restriction ‘section E’ has been added. In the dynamic zone, shown in green colour in the map above, vessels 13 m or more in overall length will be required to travel at 10 knot or less when a right whale is spotted near or in the shipping lanes.
  • According to Transport Canada, the temporary speed restrictions announced on 26 June 2019 and currently in force in all five dynamic sections A to E, will continue until at least 15 July 2019. The speed restrictions may be extended beyond this date if whales continue to be spotted near or in the shipping lanes.

Details, including coordinates of the static and dynamic speed reduction zones, are available in Transport Canada’s Ship Safety Bulletin No.11/2019.

Members and clients with vessels trading to Gulf of St. Lawrence should make every effort to ensure that Masters are informed of the static and dynamic speed restriction zones in force at any given time.