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Transport Canada lifts speed limits in Gulf of St. Lawrence

2018-01-03

McKeil Marine's Evans Spirit  won the International Bulk Journal's 2016 Ship of the Year Award during the IBJ's Salute to Excellence in the Maritime Bulk Industry gala awards ceremony in London, UK on November 21.
"It's a fantastic way to closeout our 60th anniversary year: having a vessel named after our founder, Evans McKeil, win this prestigious international award," said Steve Fletcher, President and CEO of McKeil Marine.
Acquired by McKeil in 2015, the Evans Spirit is a cargo ship with the shallow draught characters of a tug and barge; however, compared to a tug-and-barge unit, she can transport approximately 40 per cent more cargo about 50 per cent faster on a very similar amount of fuel.  She is in service throughout the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
Evans Spirit was shortlisted for 2016 Ship of the Year competing with three other vessels: CS Bright, Mitsui OSK Lines, Japan;  Damen Shipyards, Netherlands; and MN Baroque, Swiss Marine, Switzerland. The award is presented to the owner, operator or builder of an outstanding individual bulk ship. Judged on operational efficiency, design innovation, safety and environmental protection, the Evans Spirit was selected as winner. (Photo Paul Beesley).

Transport Canada announced that it has lifted temporary vessel speed restrictions in force in the Gulf of St. Lawrence since August 11, 2017 aimed at curbing additional right whale deaths. An unprecedented 12 right whale fatalities occurred last summer - some as a result of ship strikes. The global population of the endangered mammals has dwindled to about 450.

Transport Canada implemented a speed restriction for vessels 20 metres or more to maximum of 10 knots in the western Gulf of St. Lawrence. The federal transport department reports it issued 13 penalties to ship operators for alleged non-compliance.

"There have been no sightings of North Atlantic right whales in the area of slow-down in recent weeks," Transport Minister Marc Garneau said on January 11. "We thank the many vessel operators and captains who complied with this mandatory slow down."

The Ottawa-based Chamber of Marine Commerce welcomed Transport Canada's  announcement. CMC President Bruce Burrows said: "We're pleased to see the speed restrictions lifted as our ship operator members continue winter deliveries of vital products to Canadian companies and northern communities. We are working in tandem with the scientific community and government officials over the winter to develop solutions based on strong science that both protect North Atlantic Right Whales and minimize economic impacts for all Canadians."

 

As major users of North Atlantic waters, Canadian shipowners have long been engaged in research and other measures to protect marine wildlife and habitat. The shipping industry reduces speed and alters routes in critical whale habitats, regularly collects important data for scientists and helps test new technology such as the early-warning whale alert system under development by a scientific group being hosted at Dalhousie University.

Past measures taken in critical habitat such as the Bay of Fundy in 2003 have significantly reduced the threat of ship strikes to North Atlantic right whales. In the Bay of Fundy, changes to the shipping lane through the International Maritime Organization (IMO) were successful. Analysis found an overall 62% reduction in risk by moving the lane with a 1.4% increase in time for ships, while a slowdown would have only reduced risk by 52%, with a 20% increase in time. In the region where the whales typically aggregate, the lane changes reduced the risk by 90%. (Photo Louis Rhéaume)

 
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