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Fishing restrictions off the coast of northeastern New Brunswick after a North Atlantic right whale sighting. Image: Fisheries and Oceans Canada

UPDATE: Lobster fishing closure in northeastern N.B. resolved

By Brad Perry May 23, 2024 | 8:07 PM

Lobster fishers are back on the water off the coast of northeastern New Brunswick after a resolution was reached on Thursday.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada put a temporary closure in place for lobster fishing area (LFA) 23 C after a North Atlantic right whale was spotted in shallow waters last week.

During the temporary 15-day closure, fishers would have been required to remove all of their traps from the water.

That prompted frustration from many lobster fishers who had reportedly decided to ignore the removal order.

In a statement Thursday evening, Fisheries Minister Diane Lebouthillier said a review of various data sources has since determined the whale was in slightly deeper waters than initially thought.

As a result, she said, fishers can now set their traps closer to shore for the remainder of the 15-day period.

“I want to acknowledge how difficult this past week has been on harvesters,” the minister said in the statement.

“You are critical partners in our efforts to protect this important species, while carrying the enormous burden of balancing that responsibility and still maintaining your livelihood.”

Lebouthillier met with members of the lobster fishing industry on Thursday, including leadership with the Maritime Fishermen’s Union.

The minister said they had a “productive discussion” about how to address the threat facing the endangered North Atlantic right whale while minimizing the impact on the fishing industry wherever possible.

Lebouthilier noted she has asked DFO to convene a meeting of the Technical Advisory Committee on North Atlantic right whales, which includes industry reps and whale experts, to review the existing protocol.