Fisheries Department says more staff on waters to protect whales in Canada

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New rules to protect whales, dolphins and porpoises have come into effect in Canada, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans says it is in the process of ensuring more officers and patrol vessels are available to enforce them. A female resident orca whale breaches while swimming in Puget Sound near Bainbridge Island as seen from a federally permitted research vessel Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Elaine Thompson

New rules to protect whales, dolphins and porpoises have come into effect in Canada, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans says it is in the process of ensuring more officers and patrol vessels are available to enforce them.

Adam Burns, director general of fisheries resource management, says the number of officers deployed to keep people and boats away from the marine mammals has yet to be decided.

He says extensive consultations with the whale-watching industry indicated support for the regulations in order to keep the animals in areas where tourists flock to see them.

Starting today, people and vessels must maintain a minimum distance of 100 metres from most whales, dolphins and porpoises to protect them from human disturbances.

People and vessels must keep a minimum of 200 metres away from those marine mammals in the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park in Quebec, and the same distance for all killer whale populations in British Columbia.

The Fisheries Department says a distance of at least 400 metres must be maintained from threatened or endangered whales, dolphins and porpoises in the St. Lawrence Estuary, a critical beluga habitat.