Norwegian Gaspe

Cruise the Saint Lawrence is advocating an intervention strategy for 2018 when it comes to recent measures that are forcing ships to reduce sailing speed in the Saint Lawrence in an effort to protect whales.

The measure is coming at a cost, with 16 port calls cancelled so far, the association said, in a prepared statement. The cancellations effect three ports, and hit Gaspe the hardest.

“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,” the group said.

“Most unfortunately, many cruise lines have been obligated to alter their itineraries to honor 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,” explained Tony Boemi, president of Cruise the Saint Lawrence.

The association is now taking an active part in discussions currently engaged with government authorities and industry partners to find solution.

“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,” added Boemi.

One such proposal would be to add observers to spot marine mammals and alert ships, which would then adjust their speed.